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March/April 2014

CARPET ROOM - A Kind Of Malice
(S/R - 2013)

German foursome Carpet Room hardly need teaching how true heavy metal should done...in fact if anyone dare to, it might just risk insulting.

Geared to the top from.opening cut 'Unmasked' and onward from that point onwards, 'A Kind Of Malice' shreds, slashes and strikes in every place on the human body that hurts. Showing off some tasty Bay Area influence, along with a sprinkling of Maiden on top of the solo plate, they don't seem to care what sounds the same as what and what should change and nor they should be made to.

Weighty, fast and angry music without overlaying the basics always gets a page in my books and ''Use The Bullet', 'Decades. Of Hate', 'Acid Rain', 'Feel This Pain' and 'Physical Servant' are all deservedly quotable titles. Settled on top by vocalist/guitarist Avanzato's Robb Flynn growl, Carpet Room's noise is sharp, sinister and savage with a smell bigger than anything you'd encounter in those Axeminster factories.

Smashing!

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Pantera, Machine Head, P issing Razors & Megadeth.

NET: www.carpet-room.de

Casablanca – Riding A Black Swan
(Gain / Sony Music – 2013)

Well it don’t seem like five minutes since the debut came out but here is the second album that falls somewhere between Buckcherry ‘n’ Thin Lizzy and a slight hint of Enuff Znuff & White Lion vocally.

It’s a cracking release as well with ten cooking songs and kick off with the raucous slow-tempo ‘The Giant Dreamless Sleep’ with other knockouts including ‘Dead End Street Revisited’; the Sweet-like bcking vocalled (think ‘Blockbuster) ‘It’s Alright’ that’s a powerful rocker of a number.

Awesome bit of cowbell on the title-track ‘Riding A Black Swan’ & ‘Heartbreak City’ that has a killer vibe to it; the fabulous ‘Some Misty Morning’ with an old school Scott Gorham type riff and a great uptempo closer in ‘Just For The Night’.

A real grower of an album with powerful riffs from this brilliant Swdeish band.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

COLD RED MUTE - S/T
(S/R - 2013)

Back for another bite of metal down under and this trio taste of something quite worth our wait.

Victoria three-piece Cold Red Mute take seemingly few prisoners with their punk injected aggro-rock noise. Speeding through garage- flavoured fast rockers such as 'I'm Electric', 'Wolfish', 'Kicked in The Head', 'Noose', 'Helicopter' and 'No Way Out' their satanic themed stylistics would seem overlooked in favour of just being a generally great heavy rock record.

Guitarist singer Christian Block gets on a bounce with some of his numbers then just speeds out for the rest, sporting an impressively Midnight Oil -esque throat en route. Trippy, complex rhythms scarcely come up on show with Cold Red Mute, massive persistent riffs and driving seventies slash and burn stealing all the space.

Superb stuff, not for all the Sheilas.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.reverbnation.com/coldredmute

CONSTANTINE - Resign Due
(S/R - 2013)

No, not a Stephen King book adapted to music - Constantine are nonetheless pretty musically scary in their own right.

Totting up the key elements of metal, progressive and a mite of grunge these Fins make a unique fume float upwards. Grinding, modern metal guitars, chords and progressions surge through you with a swift prowess you'd have scarcely endured in this line of metal.

'World Undefined' with its Bay Area aggression on entry and a magnificently old school metal chorus, capped by some neatly Dave Mustaine-meets-Sebastian Bach -style vocal pipes is a sweet example as it attacks back and forth between modes and multi-paced progressions.

Solos, both metal and a few blues twists are accommodated to fit without flashness or pretence and the twin guitarists both work their weights well into the balance on every track. Catchy, commercial - not the most synonymous words with prog but they weld together here - Constantine are another thriller straight from Scandinavia's scorching metal shores.

Seek and be amazed.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: (at closest, a cross between...) Coheed and Cambria, Metallica, Jethro Tull, Skid Row & Blind Melon.

NET: www.losingtomusic.fi

CORNERS OF SANCTUARY - Axe To Grind
(La Mazakuata Records 2013)

Born from the ashes of Philadelphian metallers, Seeker, three-piece C.O.S. pull off some pretty classy strokes in the collective instruments shared amidst them.

Mick Michaels handles guitars and keys superbly well whilst Sean Nelligan knocks the drums and singing switches into 'on' with good old fashioned gusto. Leaving bassist James Pera the only one with a single duty to his job description, this driving trad metal assualt aims at target with the all-equivalent force of a six-piece act and bites with the Blaze Bayley range Nelligan has to offer.

The sharp rhythm guitars get the up on the sound with a slick Megadeth edge and though we don't hear as much fast stuff as we expect across these nine tracks, it fares to be different. With well controlled solos that duel against the rest of the ractchets, this rollicking old-school hard rock machine is a likeable restoration for the genre.

Recommend with raised studded fists (or maybe indeed, grinded axes) aplenty.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Judas Priest, Wolfsbane, Dio & Stratovarius.

NET: www.cornersofsanctuary.com www.myspace.com/cornersofsanctuary

Cryptic Lane – Signpost
(S/R – 2014)

Heavy Metal that has an old school feel of early Metallica, bits of Megadeth and a slice of Anthrax too done by four guys from Castrop-Rauxel, Germany who weren’t even born when some of this stuff came out.

Their songs are well constructed in a cracking horns up kinda way with some piping ‘n’ slamming numbers in the opening ‘Kill The Oppression’ with plenty of double bass drumming to get excited or the guitar riffery of ‘Breaking Out’ that’s very ‘And Justice For All’ in parts.

Or what about ‘The Final Call’ that’s pure metal up your ass or an acoustic like ballad there that surprises the ears that goes by the name of ‘Dream Of You’ as does the electric ballad ‘Someone Who Wasn’t Me’,

Decent so get the horns in the air!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

CHRISTIAN CULAK – Essence
(S/R - 2013)

Like many other forms of rock music in later years, instrumentals are not a sole produce of pretentious prog musos scattered across the States or Blighty.

Europe thrive on it like a commodity too. Christian Culak's work is a testifying example of how vocalless and tedious certainly no not go hand in hand. Diversity does however require a double injection into the mix and this boy does not let the side down. Every track here is in a tale of its own creation, taking in thrash, metal, hard rock, ambience and pure contemporary progressive stylings without seeking the need to abuse.

If you are a fan of the furious rhythm guitar lines served up on most Metallica or Dream Theater albums alike, Christian has something in store for you. Well worth your pennies, especially if your playing needs some push, 'Essence' is an inspiring musical slice.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.christianculak.bandcamp.com

November

Crusher – In Heat
(S/R – 2013)

A cool hair band that look really young that have that deep earthy blues gut to them too showing they’ve done their homework and know what works to get folks attention.

Some epic stuff on here such as the gutsy ‘Turn It Up’; the excellent ‘Redline’ and the speaking from ‘Black Beauty’ about an awesome 2-wheel machine. Or what about the Kiss’ness of ‘Sweet Sugar’ or the closing power ballad ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’.

On the up and up.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

CUTHALION - S/T
(S/R - 2013)

With a tag like Cuthalion at the top of your cover, you can only wager on what's coming up as being fast and heavy.

Although you'd have raked it in were this indeed a day at the races, its won with surprisingly different colours. Whoever told these sprightly Spanish lads its still acceptable to peddle primeval old-school speed metal like they happen to have, here in 2013 deserves...well knighthood to be more precise. Taking the trad-vocalled thrash attack of Tysondog and Onslaught amongst other successful Brits are of that woefully bygone time, they deliver the lyrics in their own lingo, but wrapped around a tightly sealed parcel of lead guitar perfection with seventies blues influence inserted within the foam.

Moving fast between chorus and solo, they spare little thought towards progressive tendencies, sticking superfast to the straightahead metal assault that enslaved Lars Ulrich to its cause some several decades ago... (and ever since, should we add). Diversity is no dirty word all the same in Cuthalia's book, and they do allow a few sneaky alternative /industrial ventures into their sound but for the super-largest part, this album is everything a seasoned old school metal fan seeks.

Seek it yourself if it comes to this country.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Praying Mantis, Diamond Head & Samson.

NET: www.cuthalion.es

July

Crosson - Spreading The Rock N Roll Disease (E.P.)
(Galaxy Records - 2013)

This is as cheesey as it gets and falling somewhere between Robin Black & The Intergalactic Rock Stars, Shameless and The Darkness.

These Austrian fellows and fellowesses obviously don't take things too seriously as the lyrics aren't exactly Mccartney & Dylan standard but they are having a full-on good time with knock-out songs like 'All About The Music' ; 'Take Another Shot' or the closing 'I'm Not Afraid'. They'll bring you the joys of Steel Panther and Kiss for sure.

Toxic decadence!

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

May

CREST OF DARKNESS - In The Presence Of Death
(My Kingdom Music - 2013)

Norway's black metal scene has long been shrouded in scandal, and also scandalously tedious acts, Crest Of Darkness amongst nominees.

Peddling more of the same substance-devoid noise on this seventh disc it's amazing how so many other thousand imitation acts have come and gone in the eighteen years this outfit have apparently scorched the Nordic surface.

Speed, speed and scream they go along nine numbingly predictable cuts that one would struggle to sit through unless your Emperor collection was stolen through your car window overnight. Typical day at the office drivel with nothing new to offer than a couple of occasional near-decent solos.

Sorry.

4/10

By Dave Attrill

January 2013

Captain Crimson - Dancing Madly Backwards
(Transubstans Records - 2012)

Bluesy Stoner sounding band from Orebro - a city in Sweden. They are a 4 piece who are very late 60's and early to mid 70's in their sound.

Okay, not the most original sounding band out there - but neither did they intend to be and build their songs from retro sounding repetitive riffs with galloping 'n' snappy drums, deep bass and high but light throaty vocals on top of the deal.

it does get a bit samey to me after a while though but there are good numbers in 'Lonely Devils Club; 'Mountains Of Sheep' and the closing title track 'Dancing Madly Backwards' that has a nice guitar solo instrumental section in it.

Okay and stands up well in the genre.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

CHASING VIOLETS - Outside Heaven
(Perris Records - 2012)

Whats better than a melodic rock band fronted by a frighteningly beautiful female? What about a band fronted by two of them for beginners.

Sisters Sarah and Melissa Fontaine arent the easiest to tell apart in voice but their silky loose ranges, both awesomely esqusite dissolve into each other as one and do not lie when they claim to collaborate with the best AOR musicians in the world. Serious word must have shot around like wildfire to have Paul Sabu, Tommy Denander, Jerry Hludzik as well as Work Of Art's Robert Sall at their side but its sure warning that thesr two feisty French chanteuses are taking off before they're even begun to tax down the runway.

'I can't Love No More', 'No Margin For Error', 'When The Darkness Falls', 'Above Suspicion', 'Outside Heaven', 'Hold Back The Dawn', 'No One's Gonna Hurt Me Anymore', 'A Hole In Paradise' and 'Ceasfire' gather all the luminaries together for an AOR tour de force sat secretly in waiting for ages. With great lead vocal visits from Goran Edman plus Sabu and Hludzik plus storming solos by the Only Child chappie himself amongst others these young ladies laugh down at anyone who dares to mock their choice in musical direction.

Leaving the Lion's share of writing to esteemed countryman Frederic Slama doesn't dent their reputation for creativity - you only have time to do so many things with such magnificent pipes to perfect - and in accuracy, les madamoiselles Fontaine create the awe this album inspires alone. Nice doesnt even come close - 'Outside Heaven' is stunning, captivating, catchy, enchanting eloquent and thoughtful all in one rich, thick thirteen track slab of swish melodic rock you'd swear blind no one believed any longer in being made.

Tres bl**din' Bien, girls!

10/10

By Dave Attrill

VERY, VERY RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Heart, Vixen, Lita Ford, Robin Beck & Dante Fox.

NET: www.facebook.com/chasingvioletsofficial

CHRIST AGONY - Darkside
(Total Metal Records - 2012)

Never mind the bearded fella, it sounds like this band’s singer is in agony on a song or two here.

Relatively less painful for this listener, Christ Agony’s album serves up a strangely loveable mish-mash of all that be metal, and extreme. Enough different styles are attempted within ‘Darkside’ to convince you there could be multiple acts under the same name at work. Industrial, death, goth, thrash and hardcore all get a go on the ride, as also do both English and their native Polish lingoes, lyric-wise.

Stormy guitar work, and synth beats that make your boards shudder come and go in a well-cobbled conglomeration and it works for all initial worries. ‘The Triangle’, ‘Dark Beauty’, ‘Kingdom of Abyss’, ‘My Spirit Seal’, ‘Dark Poem’, ‘Dark Goddess’ and ‘The Key’ proud as I am to say this for once do not need repeat plays to distinguish. Each of these ten numbers tells its own deadly tale and while there are lesser favourable bits on board, most of Christ Agony’s content is well above ground.

Darth Vader might have been right about the Darkside when you think about it.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.christagony.com

Chrome Molly - Gunpowder Diplomacy
(Edel/Ear Music - 2013)

Very much old school Metal 4 piece that remind me of bands like Saxon & Waysted etc - you get the idea with a bawling old dude in Steve Hawkins on vocal that reminds me of Biff Byford at times.

Highlights include the opening speeder of 'Corporation Fear'; the cheesey Saxon-like 'Short Sharp Shock'; the bright but ironically humourous 'Clean Outta Luck'; the Beatle and Enuff Znuff like ballad 'All In My Mind'; the alarming yet funky 'Billion Dollar Heart Attack' and closing spacey harmoniser that is 'The Runner'.

An ok album with songs that grow on you.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Circle 7 - In Between
(S/R - 2012)

Circle 7 are a San Diegan hard rock act, and a very unusual sounding one at that.

Def Leppard, Motley Crue or Van Halen fans be warned to expect disappointment – meanwhile, those appreciative of all things Seattle-oriented, do stop around. Driving, downtuned rhythms and slightly progressive pace amendments secure ‘In Between’ a place in the hearts of the open-minded metal fan alike.

Captivating hooklines you can sing for ages once the song is over, reverberate over every next number provoking an easy excuse for repeat playing. Korn-a-like moments seep in along the course of succulent belters including ‘Dare’, ‘Rebel Soul’, ‘Whole’, ‘Cage’, ‘Chasing Bullets’, Vermin’ and ‘Bury Me’ yet the double guitar grind keeps it away from that department, every other way at hand.

A meaty slice of melodic grunge metal licensed to thrill listeners, ‘In Between’ is as its title goes – one of those great little grey areas that Planet Rock’s often too black-and-white surface sees from time to time.

Brill!

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Nickelback & Disturbed.

NET: www.circle7band.com

Stacie Collins - Sometimes Ya Gotta
(Blue Rose Records - 2010)

An awesome country rocker who was originally from California but now resides in Nashville, TN - Ladies and Gentleman, may I present Stacie Collins! A raunchy vocal and visual gift indeed.

I was struck by her and her band when I saw the unit recently in Sheffield and this album is just as outatanding with incredible cuts such as the lively opener 'Hey Mister' with it's amazing country guitar sliding & twangs from husband Al; the boot scooting 'I Won't Do Ya Like That' and the rockin' it up at the barndance 'Tied To You'.

Then there's 'Give It Up' with Stacie's raunchy harmonica wails; the Stonesy meets Georgia Satellities 'Don't Doubt Me Now' and the closing spiced up cruncher that is 'Lend The Devil A Hand'. This album cannot be bettered.

Sensational Country Rock.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Consfearacy - S/T
(Massacre Records - 2010)

American/German band Consfearacy are a little known band with a super-group line-up consisting of vocalist Brian O'Connor (Vicious Rumours), guitarist Fabian Schwarz (The New Black), guitarist Ira Black (ex-Vicious Rumours, Lizzy Borden, Metal Church and Where Angels Suffer), bassist Guenter Auschrat (The New Black and Abandoned) and drummer Timo Weis.

Consfearacy unite East and West and this reflects upon their lyrical content of their music, writing about controversial topics surrounding conspiracy theories, end of day prophecies, the new world order, spiritualism and relationships. The band self-produced, recorded and mixed their self-titled promo CD in 2010 in their home studios and mastered it with Achim Koehler in Germany, producing a heavy power-tech-thrash metal formula, featuring heavy and soaring dynamic vocals, technical attacking melodic guitars, powerful driving bass lines and hard-core precision drumming. Together, these well-established international recording artists have created an undeniable metal force.

Collectively, these musicians have completed countless albums, singles and EP's, DVD’s, tours, radio airplay, magazine/press coverage and festival performances to thousands of fans worldwide. They have supported, headlined and toured with major acts in the U.S. and Europe such as DIO, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Blind Guardian, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, Queensryche, Motorhead, Black Sabbath and many more. Consfearacy began looking for a record deal in 2010, and eventually got a deal with the European label Massacre Records.

'Consfearacy' is a well-produced and very good metal album blending elements from typical American Power Metal and the Bay Area Thrash scene whilst containing the major influences of the European metal scene. The three songs that stand out for me on this CD are 'Forever Falling', 'Ritual Sacrifice' and 'Unbreakable'.

On 'Unbreakable' the vocals have got that typical European Power Metal edge with Brian O'Connor doing a very good Iced Earth impression. The lyrical content is very serious and adds a very dark atmosphere to the album. There is nothing light-hearted about this album, the music isn't out-dated, it isn't old school metal or Nu Metal, it’s just an awesome blend of Power and Thrash metal. Having an very established line up of professional musicians who have played in a large number of major acts over the years makes this CD a must for all metal fans, with the excellent soaring vocals of Brian O'Connor, the very talented and excellent guitarists of Ira Black and Fabian Schwarz, who complement each other with very well crafted solos and rhythm guitar sections and sound very Exodus-ish, the powerful bass lines of Guenter Auschrat and the drumming extraordinaire of Timo Weis.

It definitely produces a good sounding CD when all this talent gets together to produce a group like this. I only found out about Consfearacy when I tour managed for Where Angels Suffer in 2011 when Ira Black was in the band and he gave me a copy of this CD and I'm glad he did and I've not stopped playing this album regularly.

'Consfearacy' makes a very good addition to any metal head's CD collection.

8/10

By Andy Turner

Net: http://www.consfearacy.net/ https://www.facebook.com/consfearacyband
http://www.reverbnation.com/consfearacy http://www.last.fm/music/Consfearacy?ac=consfearacy

CONVERGENCE OF SHADOWS - The Hierophant (E.P.)
(S/R - 2012)

As other bands I’ve reviewed recently demonstrate, acquired musical tastes always serve better in lesser platefuls.

So, Convergence of Shadows aren’t he first instrumental prog act to have opted for an EP over a full length taste of their tricks but they remain considerate towards the cautious. Safety hats could be removed as the Texan trio seem wholly accessible.

Starting with the Theater-meets-Jadis swagger of ‘Tiamat’, through ‘Death Defeat’s ‘Space Odyssey' intensity trip to end with the all-round aplomb of ‘Exorcism’, many household names shoot up fro the trip. Brisk, accomplished instrumentery sits tight despite the absence of a voice. Starting to feel the urge for a full album, here.

Impressive, partners.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Flower Kings, Porcupine Tree & Transatlantic.

NET: myspace.com/convergenceofshadows

Creeper - Welcome To Room #9
(S/R - 2012)

An old school quartet of thrash metallers from Dallas, Texas who have a Slayer like sound but with way more audible vocals.

It reminds me of the times I used to go to real dark metal pubs in Sheffield back in the day like The Wapentake or Under The Boardwalk on a friday or Saturday night especially due to that deep, bassy chugging sound from the guitars. Sinister standouts include the opening 'M For Murder' that puts me in mind of Murderdolls; the expertising ballad that is 'Noone Will Hear' that bursts into a brutal 'n' burning b*st*rd of a screamer at times too and the heavy Priest like 'The Majic'. Then there's the sick but at the same time humourous 'Timmy' and blasting closing 'Screaming Demon'.

Thrashtastic and sounds like it's 1987 all over again!

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX - No Sadness or Farewell
(Cool Green Recordings - 2011)

Its not the first time lately that one has encountered an album only six racks in size, yet over 45 minutes in duration.

Unfortunately the translation in Crippled Black Phoenix’s case is three tiresomely overlong instrumentals woven amidst a trio of above-passable progressive rock cuts. So not to get me wrong, quarter-hour-long opener ‘How We Rock’ (a dodgily place title there people) isn’t the worst non-vocal cut ever committed to disc , and comes with its innovations to chose from, but the ambience thang goes better in smaller doses.

Soulfully-voiced numbers like ‘Hold On’ and the female-headed ‘Jonestown people’ go down with a great landscape outside your window . Wishfully-performed melodies with great sustains and semi-acoustic parts that provide an eerily welcome iciness. Still difficult to digest in siginifactly major areas, ‘N.S.O.F.’ is by no means a straight stinker, still it's easily the vocal-led half hoarding the attention here.

6.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.mascotlabelgroup.com

September

CHALCEDONY - Chapter II
(S/R - 2012)

Lured in by the manner of name broadcasting likely goth-metal delights, we are instead greeted by an equally grandiose prog album of epic proportions.

17:56 being the longest track length just to cement the point, don’t dread many tedious parp-imentary panderings from this swish multi-instrumental duo. Unflinching melodic prog rock throughout allows eloquence in together with extensiveness and they know a handsome musical trick or two when they try one. Normal commercial-length cuts such as ‘India’, ‘Blood From Stone’ and ‘Pandora’s Box’ house hard-edged complexities often reserved for the feature length machines, whilst resident long-sters ‘Regyne’, ‘Mechanical Wind’ and aforementioned eighteen minute closer ‘Final Love’ still leave plenty light and entertaining without managing to bore.

Guitar expertise from in-house shredder Chris Wilson is another technical scoop placed of course alongside eponymous frontwoman Chalcedony’s super –sharp range, herself a finely accomplished pianist and cellist to boot. Time not having been in my side of late I haven’t had quite had the minutes to muster the epic size write up I’d have liked to have given this gargantuan disc, but hey at least I have still space for the grade.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Dream Theater, Evanesnce, Yes, Magnum, Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Flower Kings, Jadis & Threshold.

Chillihounds - Shake Your Skull
(Transubstans Records - 2011)

Swedish Rockers who sound like a cross between Status Quo, Rival Sons and the odd element of 70's sounding ZZ Top at various interludes with a frontman in Gabriel Aadland who sounds a but like Ian Astbury.

This is good old rock and blues with some pounding numbers in 'Taking Off'; the harmonica starting 'Cain'; the blues of 'Mark Of Cain' with a shedload of harp as well, not to mention thumping bass drum & the AC/DC like 'Love Pays No Rent'.

Plenty of riffs and whisky stoked sounding stoner like vocals to get you excited right here.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Crash Street Kids - Sweet Creatures
(Hot City Recording/Vanity Music Group - 2011)

Punk, Sleaze and Glam from a well known band of the genre who present 10 super cool numbers indeed.

Highlights include the Sweet like 'Mary Queen Of Rock'; the big f*ck-offery of opener title track 'Sweet Creatures'; the serious sounding 'Sad Julia'; the acoustic Smokie meets David Bowie acoustic 'Angel' or the nicely angled 'Harlot Of The Flies' with its fine use of vocoder.Love the piccy of Sunset strip that leads up to the Roxy and Rainbow - my fave walk in the world just about - good times indeed, good times.

Nice.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Cyanide 4 - Everyday Is A Masquerade
(Perris Records - 2012)

These guys sound and look like Vain but strangely enough come from nowhere near California but in fact Greece.

Highligts on here include the opener 'Hide In The Shadow'; 'Innocent Alibi'; the Def Leppard meets LA Guns like 'Cyanide'; the ballad 'Illusions' that's got nice guitar soaring solo work in it that's rather Hanoi Rocks which can be said for the closer too that is 'Midnight Heat' that comes complete with thunder and rain sound effects.#

It's OK album.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

June

CHASM - They
(S/R - 2012)

Norway, known best nowadays for its AOR contributions, can crack out the odd different -sounding outfit or two as well if it likes.. And so they do seem to.In spite of being labelled alternative on the promo, overtly-thinking foursome Chasm deliver a silky progressive flavoured ten number platter that pulsates through you warmly and waves you about with its lust.

Taking the new wave vocal styles of Sting and setting them to the guitar, keyboard movements of Porcupine Tree and Asia at often their softest with female harmonies added for greater flavour, ‘Undisclosed Recipients’, ‘Puma’, ‘Tenebra (Going Home)’, ‘Reach’, ‘Shine’, ‘Garments’ and ‘Atypical’ explore all laid before them, layering lax harmonies and swish switch backing tempos along to titanium bass lines.

Superb and strongly original material from another great set of Nordic inventors, some chasms are worth falling deep down into, never reappear…. though I’d prefer if these guys did.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Advisable just to listen.

NET: www.myspace.com/officalchasm

April

Casablanca - Apocalyptic Youth
(Rocket Songs - 2012)

Excellent rock band from Sweden that feature Ryan Roxie of the Alice Cooper Band (ex-Slash's Snakepit) on lead guitar.

Vocally, Anders Ljung sounds a bit like Davy Vain with a gravelly, throatiness to his tone (think 70's band, Smokie) who nails some excellent songs here such as 'Downtown' which before you ask is not a cover of the Dusty Springfield classic and the almost funkiness of 'The Juggler' that reminds me of The Rolling Stones in their more disco like mode mixed in with The Cars.

Then there's the 'I Was Made For Lovin' You-esque 'Love And Desperation'; the uplifiting 'Beast Of Summer' - hey ain't there a lyric there lifted from the 60's hit 'Dancing In The Streets' - just sayin' guys! An excellent happy go luck closer in 'A Lifetime On The Run' as well.

Good album and you can tell what bands they must be into as well.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

CONAN - Monnos
(Burning World Records - 2012)

No relation to an 80’s Arnie flick, this outfit however are way less exciting entertainment.

The stoner guitar noise sets in with a promise on this six-track ep and offers some scintillating progressive moments and Metallica-bred ferocity in a few well-spaced areas. Sadly that’s as good as it gets, with the so-called vocals represented by a bloke sounding like he’s stood outside on the street vainly hailing taxi for half an hour, repeating the tunes already stiflingly limited lyrical content.

Hopefully he is eventually picked up by one and dumped in a place far away from here, or even more preferably run over on the spot, as this horrid thrown together catastrophe is experimental metal at its ugly and highly unlistenable side. Strapping Young Lad do this one off with much greater pride so do the honourable thing an leaver it to them.

Great ideas gruesomely ruined.

3/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: hailconan.com

CRUSHER - Endless Torment
(Total Metal/Metal ScrapRecords - 2012)

Young thrash metal acts seem often the speciality of UK shores nowadays but don’t let that stop Eastern Europe edging their way in on the pitch.

Rusisan Trio endless torment , reminiscent as they are of other speed metal startles making waves in the recent half decade, do it all with aplomb and a love for their inpsirations and the sound they create. A blistering take of Slayer’s ‘Jesus Saves’ on top of their self-composed shredders such as 'On The Needle', 'Den Of Inquity', 'Polititshit, S(K)atanic Ride and Living for’… brings this album into the room marked ‘must give these guys a chance’ straight away and so we unhesitant do.

Rhythm guitars and solos so tight they nearly suffocate seem to make frontman Dyatel’s range sound only more pained but thankfully not painful. Without anything lasting over its time, this debut album is thirty-five-plus minutes of top rate thrash aggression from a band who’ve already indulged in a bout of successful self-discovery. Listen endlessly and enjoy the tormenting.

Good one!

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Evile, Slayer, Forbidden, Vio-lence, Dark Angel, Anthrax

NET: mypsace.com/crusherkiev www.metalscrap.org.ua

CRYPTIC - Infinite Torment
(Metal Scrap Records - 2011)

Poland’s Cryptic torment take into their work with their tools and cut their material a lot finer than a number of other extreme metal outfits on the mingy face of the planet manage.

Though treated to predominantly predictable gut-spewing from leader Tomash, its back to the otherwise off-kilter commerciality that the twin guitar element has moulded itself into there across the Danube. Bay-area favouring rhythms and bouncy progressions sit alongside juttery chord sustains that do your skul lthe equal level of harassment.

Brilliantly balanced between over-soft and out-and-out racket, ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’, ’Salvation’, ‘On Wings Of Chaos’, ‘New Existence’, ‘Infected Soul’ and ‘Visions From The Abyss’ sell with their solos and strong consistence of pace without casting away the reins of versatility, something fellow East Europeans C-300 could have tried their hand at.

Torment well worth enduring.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE : Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Testament, Emperor & Slayer.

C-300 - Scourge Of Angels
(Metal Scrap Records - 2011)

Another awkwardly Cyrillic-lettered sleeve leaves me suffering having to translate the background of these boys.

I’m suffering more so at having to get through a four-track cd that as a progressive work, clocks in not too surprisingly at over half an hour. Quite brutally in honesty, this mess just mostly passes me by - proficient they may be but a poor man’s death metal Dream Theater they only just avoid turning into.

Where the melodic comes into this, other than a couple of sustained solo lines one has to survive right to the middle of each tune to hear tragically eludes me - that the fourth number is only four and a half minutes is a mercy granted almost too late.

Scourge of my eardrums maybe but saviour of coaster collection.

3.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE : (Anything that sounds like) Emperor & Burzum.

NET: www.metalscrap.org.ua

CYDIA - Evil Sun
(Metal Scrap Records - 2011)

Sounding like a lethal pill of some description, this Russian outfit’s output could be as dangerous if overdosed on to gratuitous volumes.

Seemingly advertised as groove death, the style is pretty compliant and tedium -free with it, despite the vocals being penned in the act’s homeland lingo. Some pretty NWOBHM -nurtured chugging gets a place in each number with fantastic bounce and tempo variations. Solo work is handled as amiably as expected by Oleg Zoob, Pantera influences simply left to run amok on most tracks.

Adding sneaky symphonic metal deviations into this energetic eleven -track journey should not offend the elitist when all the hallmarks have their pegs set firmly enough in the holes already. Stas Nobody applies a sturdy extreme metal throat, translatable and a couple of brief Korn moments accommodate it with little need for improvisation on what are also hugely promising live numbers.

Somewhat groovy stuff indeed.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE Obituary, Cancer, Sepultura, My Dying Bride, Machine Head & Faith No More.

NET: www.myspace.com/cydia-metal_band

March

FRANCK CARDUCCI - Oddity
(S/R - 2011)

Italy and prog rock have not had the most visible of associations outside their own shores but seems of late it is bursting with it on top of the overloading talent capacity.

Coming amidst the coolest names lately is os Mr Franck Carducci whose brand of classy 70s art rock swish instantly wins me over. That said, starting with a fifteen minute tune is still almost naughty but even so, some might say is ripping off a David Bowie classic and almost trying to pass it off as one’s own work. Yet both ‘Achilles’ and ‘The Last Oddity’ are fine tunes for their duration and amazingly instant with their approach, delivering surprisingly hooky harmony lines right at the in door.

Franck’s approach, both vocally and down the instrumental channel are suited to the swish blues-driven rock vibe he pumps through the valves of vitriolic retro-groover ‘Alice’s Eerie Dream’. Attacking with a raunchy Hendrix bend, this album is guaranteed not to become boring and Carducci’s sharpened brilliance and straightforward take on the prog genre is praise enough to place him high on the genres’ global map.

Brilliant stuff.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Asia & Deep Purple.

NET: www.franckcarducci.com

February

CELTACHOR - In the Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers
(S/R - 2011)

Concept albums sound often wasted in extreme metal circles, seemingly normally as you struggle to understand the lyrical content through the sickening growls and gargles.

Celtachor look to make a one-off waive to the rulebook with an impressive seven-part story told to a black metal backdrop where if you listen carefully you can get a bit of the tale. If you still obviously strain, then the lyric pages are certainly worth reading as they take you through an interesting medieval tale as if it were real without the pretence of Manowar. Guitar work is good as you hope for with some bouncing grooves making for a jovial within the piece and pleasant woodwind additions also elbow slide in at every welcoming time.

Quite interesting.

7.5/10

By Dave Atttrill

NET: www.myspaxce.com/celtachor

STEVE CICHON - Heavy Sleeper
(S/R - 2011)

The twenty one-o’s are barely over two years young yet shoved enough new instrumental faces at us to last the next lifetime.

Amidst them 7 a veteran undiscovered to us at camp Metalliville comes roaring on by for a call. Having dug up stuff from his previous disc ‘Cranial Feedback’ its disturbing to see why we’ve been denied the privilege to access the world of guitar swishster Steve Cichon till now. Steve’s music has many faces to its shape, moving along from technical solo metal to prog, to silky instrumental AOR and round again, adding a little extra each time.

Bending only when its right and slapping strictly for bite, this clever gent crunches the rhythm lines into a shape that’s as good as any bottom string harmony itself, the handmade distortions bringing an occasional blues and on one instance Celtic overtone to the proceedings. Less of Vai and Yngwie’s overblown flamboyancy in favour of freshly straight song writing and evident exploration of all that’s offered to him in the way of influence, Steve Cichon’s name adds in black ink alongside the best, nonethless.

Sound music, sounding great for it as well.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.nightmarerecords.com

CRIMSON RIVERS - Sorrowful Hell
(S/R - 2011)

Crimson Rivers are a girl-fronted metal act from Greece with a line in melodic goth metal finesse of only the finest order.

From the opening piano chords of ‘ ‘Cursed Riddle’ to the finishing harmonies of ‘Funeral’ ‘S.H’ is a majestic listen and the one of the most impressive ¾ hour of music this scene has gifted in the last twelve months. Stunning pictures play into your mind with the solos and melodies, Stellas’ voice makes as a universal treat for music in general though ‘Obscure Soul’, ‘Path To The Death’ , ‘In Life‘s Silence’, ‘Lights Of Reflection’ and ‘Inner Suffering - Hollow Suffering’ are the essential starting point to see and hear what you’re getting.

Fotis V’s solos are versatile and class in competing turns with a likeness to Testament shredder Alex Skolnick - opening lick to ’Obscure….’ notably in particular while keyster Thano Piachas generates into a growing nucleus of every number of the ten as the album progresses on. Blinding beginning to end, with barely a rough bit to flatten, ‘Sorrowfull Hell’ is a solidly shaped goth metal disc cut with only the finest instruments and played by evidently finest instrument-ists.

Steal it now and be amazed.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Mostly Autumn, Anathema & Evanescence.

NET: www.myspace.com/crimsonrivers/gr

January 2012

Captain Black Beard - S/T
(S/R - 2011)

Great Rock band from Sweden who formed in 2009 who have unleashed this energetic electric debut onto the world.

'Rock Is My Life' has a riff that reminds me off a famous song by Rush runnijng through it going by the name of Spirit Of Radio'; where elsewhere there are echoes of the likes of Buckcherry such as on the opening number 'Hey Man'.

I have only one think about it that spoils it for me - their just isn't enough roughness in the singers voice at times and makes it sounds too weak and poppy. Nice ballad in 'Summer Nights' - no it's not the song from Grease before you ask - lol. Closer 'Rockin' Body is great powerful song with a killer guitar riff to it.

An OK release.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

CHRIST AGONY - Nocturn
(Mystic Production - 2011)

Supergroups… oh how the metal scene would do without them….. Very well thankyou sometimes but this get together from two of black metals biggest names isn’t as tedious as most turn out to be.

Behemoth’s Inferno Prominski and ex-Vader man, Reyash could have put something a lot more disappointing than this eight-track platter of finely progressive extreme noise and I for a rarity am hooked right from opener ’Reign of Chaos’. Reyash’s lead vocals shared with guitarist Cezar while needless to elaborate on any further themselves sit on top of some beautifully Paradise Lost meets Testament rhythm lines riddled heavily across the conglomeration and a healthy mix of slow and fast tempos.

'Frozen Path', 'The Stigma Of Hell', 'Silent Gods Of Darkness' and 'Black Star Falling' aren’t going to alienate anyone from the scene but offer some rarely utilised guitar dynamics in their set and the live substance fills the glass here to reach the highest line on the measure. One worth chasing after especially by the new extreme metal believer this is less agony than one expects whilst retaining its full un-Christ-ly evil.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Emperor, Vader, Nile, Cradle of Filth, Slayer & My Dying Bride.

NET: www.myspace.com/mysticpl

CORNERSTONE - Somewhere In America
(Atom - 2011)

Cornerstone are a young four piece from Austria who need a look at the promo for us to believe that itself… that other country beginning and ending ‘A’ - yes, that one mentioned in the title - would have otherwise sprung instantly up.

Two album-young outfit to be truthful, this second long player is a powerful and emotive platter of melodic rock, alternative and retro-edged rock 'n'roll testosterone, delivered in an incredible tour de force of musical dynamics. Mostly favouring the Journey-flavoured side of their craft, the bands female-led lushness is brought to a mesmerising fore by in-band chanteuse Patricia Hillinger who shines strongly in particular on numbers like 'Stay', 'Rise and Shine', 'Right or Wrong', 'Like A Stranger', 'Follow You, Follow Me' and 'High And Low'. Steve Wachelhover has a style for every sound they explore, lifting off with many a tasty rhythm and travelling along the air along with her harmonies, soloing his way across the mountains on his way back down to the end.

Ably adopting a pleasing Police-esque sound into 'Oblivious' after sending it reggae-wards with 'Being Unaware' before rocking hard straight ahead onto the final two cuts. Am I grateful that its over after only 39 minutes? Yes and that’s because it’s placed generous time aside to play this stunning record over and over til my sound system bleeds. These three lads and one lady have laid a massive egg of melodic rock in our nest and have us beg that some live dates are upcoming.

Cornerstone indeed.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Heart, Journey & Evanescence.

NET: www.cornerstone.at

September

JC Cinel – The Light Of A New Sun
(Andromedarelix – 2011)

The 2nd album from JC, an Italian who cuts it with some slick southern rock that you’d think he was from the Deep South just about.

Beautifully recorded it is too with everything mightily standing out in its full glory right from the exceptional opener ‘Think Of Myself’ with some killer harmonica playing to the closing acoustic ‘A Place In The Sun’ that should have crickets singing in the background as its so nice and relaxing.

In between are some real feelgood numbers in the form of the slight Skynrydy ‘Sweet And Wild’; the amazingly Harrison gone countriness of ‘Islands’ with the lovely guitar solo and sound overall; the bluesines brilliance of ‘White Soldier’ and the incredible ‘Fallen Angel’ that is an epic track in need of recognition.

You need this in your collection.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

August

CALIGULA - Not Too Short to be Great
(S/R - 2011)

The commonly revered art of crossing styles has visibly shed all its remaining limitations up to here, in 2011.

Stoner metal and ska, as close an interpretation of Caligula’s output as I can muster is sailing as dangerously near to the wind as is now safe unless the clouds have backed off themselves. Switching their direction unevenly throughout the eight track album, between fast brutal metal and bop-along brass-laden sections, this Belgian five piece suddenly become hugely entertaining and certainly in a non-derogatory sense.

Purists are set to be very selective when faced with ‘Everyone Sucks But Us’, ‘Rackham The Red’, ‘Thrashing Puppies’, ‘Hard Rock N’ Roll’ and ‘The Great Supervillain’ but behind some blatantly corny titles of the kind you’d have come across on a Lawnmower Deth album or two in the past, lie some lovely fast speed metal rhythms and while the symphonic keyboard samples are trying to dig it in fine, the whole album remains fun.

Not too short to be great but short enough to perhaps ask for further.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: myspace.com/CaligulaBelgium

June

CONFINED WITHIN - Ashes Of A Fallen Kingdom
(Rising Records - 2011)

Aptly the name for the kind of noise I find myself listening to here, Confined Within they are that amidst a colossal noise wall though the substance turns out does exist, escaping to us through the cracks.

Peddling pretty Killswitch Engage-tutored fare, thes Stafford newcomers alternate the growling and singing modes the same way and the more subtle parts throw up some sweet harmonies, though the real ear opener comes with an unexpected eighties metal break in the middle of one particular track - I’ll leave you to hear it for yourself. Still brutal elsewhere as you’d expect throughout, most of these twelve menacing ditties impress, and also with solos you seldom get treated to on contemporary-oriented metal cuts.

Confine yourself within your quarters and crank up the woofers may be worth it with these boys.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Trigger The Bloodshed (but better)
NET: www.myspace.com/confinedwithinuk

CRIMSON FALLS - Fragments of Awareness
(Rising Records - 2011)

Belgium has become a molten hotbed for metalcore talent in recent times and Crimson Falls, now apparently in their ninth year of existence on planet metal’s heated crust don’t look like allowing the reputation to wither.

Their own, for being a band ‘for moshers, metal heads and hardcore kids’ certainly stands robust, ripping lungs apart over eleven well produced lumps of progressive extreme noise assault. ‘Forsaken’, ‘If I’d Become A Father’, ‘With All Due Respect’, ‘Sworn Persistence’, ‘Cauterize Havoc’, ‘Cordoba’ and ‘A Period of consequences’ aren’t all about speed and growls every second of each song, as guitar solos amid added substance gel some much advised accessibility into things.

Formulaic still, in considerable size from start to end, the more mature side of the metalcore criteria is displayed in Crimson Falls’ sound. Lyrics centred on the well trodden HC topics of respect and unity have proven to work together with technical instrumentation and although I’ve heard bands of far more versatile pace per song, these lads know they’re looking at a good thing.

And I think I have found myself listening to one.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: myspace.com/crimson falls

May

Mark Clarke - Moving To The Moon
(It's All About Music - 2010)

Reminds me vocally of somewhere between Roger Daltrey, John Parr and Paul McCartney with styles to match musically.

He is a man who has played in Uriah Heep, Colosseum & Natural Gas (with Joey Molland of Badfinger) as well as with Billy Squier and this is his 1st ever solo album. 10 cracking songs that rock you and lieft your spirits through the album with highlights include the cracking opener 'One Of These Days'; the sad but enchanting 'Without You'; the beautiful sounding, bizarre lyriced but also bright 'n' positive 'Heaven & Hell' that's very George Harrison; the countryesque 'Then Tomorrow Comes'.

Nice CD from this very talented man.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

COMMON SWIFT - These Safe Homes
(S/R - 2010)

Winsconsin's Common Swift conglomerate an interesting paring -of styles obviously into their lacy pop guitar based approach.

Placing prog, indie, grunge and sixties sounds into their pot bodes well for attention though today but these lads make the stunt looking convincing for success every time. Light peppery semi acoustic guitar lines, alternating into Britpop chordage and back all underneath frontman Brian Strutt’s fairly often near- McCartney/Lennon -like range give it a familiar shape in its ways but an unusually clean lead solo break in several of these numbers is a rare feature.

The thirteen track debut does take its time to get * off the runway but with later tunes such as ‘Shadow Boxers‘, ‘’Lakes Of Pristine Glass‘, ‘Sunbursts‘, ‘Clouded Glass’ ’Everyday‘ and ‘Separate Sighs‘ ,’ they’re soon cruising at a satisfactory rate of knots. If you’re after music to sit outside your caravan one hot summers evening with an acoustic guitar on your lap, let these lads be a useful strum-along subject.

Pleasant.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Flower Kings, Stereophonics, Sonic Youth & The Beatles.
NET: www.myspace.com/commonswift

March

CHAOS CALLING - Beyond Illusion
(S/R - 2010)

Good British groups have been a little scarce on the ground of late but as always one has to hit back loudly as to awake the slumber. Chaos are a young four-piece so hell-bent on leaping aboard the versatility carriage they nearly forget their ticket.

Fusing inspirations as far adrift as rage Against the machine, Dream Theater and James Brown, the promo info proves to be no mere gimmick - , a rarity these days - as all these and many hundred more various musical beasts bygone echo across these eight meatly crafted slices of prog -accented modern metal.

’Thin Ice’, ’Ritual Misery’, ’Conflict Control’, ’Rules of Engagement’ and ‘Fruit of Life And Energy’ re all instant hard-hitters with substance and strong intent, showing good feeling for it through their classy , sometime Maiden solo lines plus catchy lyrics and hooks. A ballsy and brutal experimental metal album, if ever I’ve had to apply that combination in writing, these guys have performed beyond illusions to shape it to this audacious extent but it paid.

Tasty chaos I’d call for any day.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Nirvana & Porcupine Tree.

www.myspace.com/chaoscallingmusic www.chaos callingmusic.co.uk

ALESSANDRO COSSU -Pensieri
(S/R - 2010)

As the queue of European guitar talent seems not to get any shorter, some are prepared to push in to the front, or in Alessandro Cossu’s case just picked out as they stand out a little bit.

This young gent from Udine is a distinguishable pedigree, his cues coming from not only Yngwie and the rest but also from various jazz luminaries down the line who are all instantly evident in his sound, by the first track into the eight. No endless speed soloing ventures for this chappie as he sits down and strums to sweetly laid bass lines by his friend Dennis Baselli plus welcome additions of sax that create instrumental pieces also perfect for listening to in restaurants.

Strong sixties vibes fill the air during title number ‘Pensieri‘, ’Direct Crash’’ and ’While Looking Outside’ and the feelgood level is set unusually high for an instrumental rock disc. Delicately performed with little pretence and all-out profession, Alessandro Cossu’s name is one soon likely to appear in the same sentence as Steve Vai’s on regular occasions.


Beautiful work.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: myspace.com/alessandrocossu

February

CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE - We Haven’t Been properly Introduced (E.P.)
(Mannequin Phono - 2010)

Haven’t we? Well these four pleasant young men come from Toronto, Canada’s hotbed of rock talent and peddle a friendly brand of pop rock/alternative material you might have heard umpteen bleeding hundred items before but do all bands do it as catchy as this.

While thankfully not sounding like the next biggest bunch of Green Day wannabes on the planet, frontman------#s range is Billie Joe like in his angst whine but never irritating and there are nice melodies in abundance on vocals and strings alike.

For those who’d like it laid back instead of lairy and fast, ’Young Love’, ’Fastest of The Losers’ and the excellent ’Desdemona’ are beautifully penned North American guitar pop numbers that sound fun in the summer and stay with you through Christmas though you’ll find no turkeys on this menu here.

Lovely, lads.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: myspace.com/chargeband

Circle Of Bards - Tales
(Electrum Production - 2010)

Out in the woods medieval kinda stuff that you'll love if you like Blackmore's Night. It's relaxing material and works so well when you stick the light off and listen away to this magnificent music.

It's done acoustic with percussive backing as well and like going back in time a few hundred years. This album from the one-man lyrical writer and composer, Mariusz Migalka from Poland, who plays and sings beautifully throughout the duration of the 9 main songs that have a 'Welcome' introduction and a closing 'Farewell'.

It's pure joy throughout with highlights including the gorgiously harmonied 'My Magic Song'; the folky and very celtic bounciness of 'Our Own Land'; the own languaged 'Czarne Smoti' with the exquisite guitarwork; 'Bridges We Shall Pass' with the amazing pipe-playing or the bright brilliance of 'When The Bard Sings'.

Atmospheric and aesthetically perfect.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

COMA - Excess
(Mystic Productions - 2010)

Polish prog kings Coma name themselves after something bout 51% of the genre’s bands are guilty of putting its less appreciative listeners into.

Yet they are not part of the offending half, no way. Much as I love the mighty Dream Theater, this foursome come across as a change more refreshing than a pool of ice cold lemon squash, with energy and drive for a true heavy rock feel and serious downtime for overladen keyboard patterns. Instead of that, their totally natural edge is generated totally by honest well educated guitar handling with a friendly peppering of INXs strums on occasion and none of the usual predictably grandiose multi instrumental meanderings.

Here, you get songs, simple as, ‘Excess’, ‘Transfusion’, ‘Poisonous Plants’, ‘T.B.T.R.’, ‘Afternoons In The Colour Of Lemon’ and ‘Silence Of Fire’ among the instant hitters, with potentially searing live prowess. Headbanger- friendly math rock is the closest I can extend my descriptive finger to what Coma trade in though there is a healthy likeness with Brit outfit Awake. ’Excess’ is excellent example from a normally very take and leave scene Coma are certainly a group worth taking note of fast, before they leave.

Excess- llent.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

NET: www.coma.art.pl

CORNFLUX - Spark
(S/R 2010)

Jazz, prog rock and punk is the newest thing to try all thrown together, at least seemingly according to Illnois foursome Cornflux, which is, let’s say…interesting. Possibly in an additional move to get us warmed to this one vocals have been sacrificed in favour of a saxohpone.

The idea’s good, with Dan Burke’s electrifying show on the instrument but the music almost isn’t in many places with irritating over-changing rhythms that don’t settle often enough into a pace. Leaving poor Dan as often the only one actually playing something recognisable as a tune, it takes until third number ‘Fire Garden’ to get it off to an enjoyable tee and then still wobbles between so-so unlistenable for the rest of the trek.

Marks for trying new first time round but the prog element has been dangerously over-pumped into this mix of musical oxygen.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

December

CHICKENHAWK - Modern Bodies
(Brew Records - 2010)

Not only the name that’s crazy here but the sound… and the vocalist seems a bit south of his straitjacket as well come to think of it.

Sadly its not one I ended up being too crazy about either. The tunes often come flying in with riveting garage rock rhythms but seems to only act as a slide down to the mess awaiting at the bottom. I know and respect as always the importance a band seeks in being different and original but CH seem to need reminding that leaving actual tunes out for the sake of it lies over the line - the choruses are also totally lost here amongst a pile of badly aligned vocal layers and clumsy middle sections.

For the still desperately curious, the style is something that attempts to be prog combined with something that attempts to sound like Devin Townsend with a dodgy ticker but makes a sadly indigestible mix wrecks everything this disc appears to have going for it at first entry and struggle as I do to just get my way through all eleven tunes, struggling to it… seems one almost not worth risking.

It may be advisable to chicken out of this one.

3.75/10

By Dave Attrill

CITY WEEZLE - Taboo
(S/R -2010)

Weird name had unfortunately meant dodgy cd on more occasions that comfortable of late and now its dropped to another low. City Weezle seem to have honest enough intentions but not organized ones.

Hence a twelve track racket of prog, alternative and psychedelic jumble that exhibit little sing of any actual tune. To worsen the already sub-palatable platter, a sped up screaming vocal attack that sounds like a hyena being repeatedly screwed by his swingers whilst at the rest of the time we get someone that sounds like he got the wrong room for a cartoon voice over. Add horrendously patched together guitar lines and murdered saxophone harmonies - using the term very riskily - and you have an album that becomes unlistenable after only two songs .

Two? That’s a coincidental number.

2/10

By Dave Attrill

CRUSHING BLOW - Cease Fire
(Inferno - 2010)

The French metal scene rears its far from ugly head once again - been a while you guys over there - with one of Europe’s best and tightest melodic metal outfits for quite some time.

Girl fronted fivesome Crushing Blow deal exactly the meaning of their name ten times over with gritty trad metal testosterone, served with a healthy does of modern day medicine. Frontwoman Valene’s Doro-alike pipes do every of the town songs most of the justice left behind by the fantastic twin guitar melodies to take care of. Ben and Guillaume (first names only here it seems) may have possibly or not stepped straight out of an Iron Maiden tribute gig into this outfit but they kill with every lick, brining on a catchy thrash assault halfway down the disc.

English may not be this band’s first language but they exhibit zero difficulty in the lyrical field. ’Wizard’s Tale’, ’Redemption’, ’Dreams’ , ‘Tears of Heart‘, ‘Rise Your Soul’, and perky power ballad ’My Venom’’ don’t come without choruses and do well in the instantness stakes along the way, transforming themselves into instant live nuggets in the process.

A wholesome slab of old-school power with only the casual of modern essences, CB will never cease fire as long as they fire lethal musical bullets of the kind loaded in this deadly metal weapon.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Warlock, Lana Lane, Doro, Iron Maiden & Helloween

NET: www.myspace.com/crushingblowmusic

CYCLAMEN - Senjyu
(S/R - 2010)

Cyclamen are a London-based Japanese fronted metal act. Interesting. We all hope, and wish as well.
Sadly again great hype goes to the dogs as soon as this bleeder gets playing…although its frankly more my ears that do the bleeding.

Frontman Hayato Imanishi has a pleasant enough voice when you actually hear it being used especially with his native lingo doing the lines, but that’s only when he’s not spending the rest of the time gargling his intestines all over the speakers.

The western instrument section of messrs Newman, Sigo, Steele and Orbin are pretty versatile as you venture on further in with prog and even vague Latino interludes getting in, but the overall format is a general letdown. Screamcore is bad in English; in Japanese it’s well…. lets say interesting but sadly fails to divert this one from the pile marked ’beer mats’.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU TOLERATE:

Bring Me the Horizon

October

Control The Chaos – Pendulum – The Instrumentals (E.P.)
(Itchy Metal Entertainment – 2010)

7 tracks of dark instrumentation of the metal kind that are great to have on as background music for that deep moment – pure lullabies we got here.

The 2nd number ‘Genocide’ got my attention especially for its people killing people spoken word intro and the pacey ‘Heavy Reign’ that’s like Judas Priest meets Iron Maiden or something of that ilk.

It does have a tendency to get a bit samey though after a while.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

Control The Chaos – Blackened Sunrise (EP)
(Itchy Metal Entertainment – 2009)

Las Vegas Metal Merchants crank it up on this ‘ere 5 track E.P. that even includes a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B.’ alongside their own numbers such as the Intro ‘The Oligarchis’ and ‘Execute Order 66’ that starts with a spoken word that sounds like Fozzy Bear from The Muppet Show.

Ok.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan

September

Mike Campese - Electric City
(S/R – 2010)

Electric City is the 7th solo release from the electrical wizard Mike Campese.

If you are not familiar with Mike well don’t worry, all you have to do is play some Joe Satriani and you will feel at home.

This 14 track CD has some of the finest guitar work you will ever hear and throughout Electric City this is done very tastefully with the added harmonies, drums and bass beats. There are a couple of tracks where he does give his vocal talents a go such as ‘Cruisin Across The Mojave’ which is a very entertaining song.

Mike is a very talented guy who has worked his way up through GIT school musicians institute and being a member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

5/10

By Tony Watson

July
ROB CARLTON - Beautiful Collision
(S/R - 2010)

Along comes another instrumental sensation- a term that is often applied very loosely. Whether it is again in the terms of Mr Carlton serves suspense as I begin the listen.

Certainly no Vai/Satch/Yngwie wannabe, the fella dishes up some often healthy servings of southern fried blues cooked in a very seventies kitchen and keeps a palatable prog garnish sprinkled on top. Towards the back half ,we do appear to be tasting the same two courses over and over again and the direction seems either lost or totally single as the album goes on with the interesting parts suddenly becoming noticed as almost totally drained.

’B.C.’ is still quite good though and largely melodic, with Rob’s strong musical talent put to very substantial practice for the greater half but it would seem advisable to just put everything together within 7 or 8 tracks than spreading them out across 12 for the sake of length.

Worth hearing, especially for seasoned string-aholics alike.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

GEORGE CASEY - Get It On
(Prism Music/Fontana North - 2010)

Toronto is one of melodic rock’s senior contributors across the pond, with Honeymoon Suite, Harem Scarem and Von Groove being but three just to show it hasn’t gone quiet of late, our latest newcomer George Casey breezes in with a bright take on the sound.

Reverting from the arena metal edge of the aforementioned Canuck gems to a seventies blues layered twist, with southern vibes swarming all round it. Inevitably, on occasion, Mr C slips a brief indie deviation in but its all in good measure and keeps the musical balance smooth and consistent.

Check out the sweet acoustic-led rhythm lines holding up the classic old fashioned ~American soloing and George’s soul-ly sweet harmonies and you’ll have the titles ‘Let’s Go Out’, ‘Moonless Nights’, ‘Butterfly’, ‘All Your Fears’, ‘City Lights’, ‘’Right The First Time’ and ‘No Control’ on your mind as you return for your repeat play. Just right for the summer months we’re sitting in at the moment, though obviously suited to year around listening, ‘Get it on ‘ is advice in itself.

Recommended stuff.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE :
Lynryd Skynrd, Black Crowes, Pride and Glory, Soul Asylum & Cream.

Charlotte – Medusa Groove
(Eonian Records – 2010)

When I 1st put this one, I thought, ‘Holy Sh*t – these guys sound like they have devoured the 80’s and brought it into their own’ – then I realised it was a collection of songs by a band from that era – no wonder it sounds so damn good and completely look the part too.

The songs were recorded between 1988 and 1992 in LA and have that big hair flair about them with Robert Plant like vocals and big sound all round on all things musically. Highlights include he opening title track ‘Medusa Groove’; ‘Siren’; ‘Miss Necrophilia’; ‘Changes’; ‘Roadhouse Of Love’ and the closing ‘All Tied Up’.

A pure pleasure of a listen.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

COMBAT NOISE - Frontline Offensive Force
(Brutal Beatdown Records - 2010)

Cuban metallers Combat Noise make themselves know in a very noisy way indeed with their debut album.

Namely half an hour of fearsome thrash/deathcore anger and though it is also fearsome in its familiarity, that isn’t always a negative thing but cant be walking on the borderline. . ‘Paratroopers’ and ‘Sniper In Position’ are standard extreme metal by numbers assaults , playing on speed and some discernible substances, the later the albums longest tune at 4:39 allowing for a progressive middle eight but still seems unfinished. The Stop-go guitar rhythm of ‘Into The Killing Zone’ makes things interesting that reason alone but as does as the previous track , we get things to slow a little later on for the solo to breath its own air.

Hiding in wait behind a Latin guitar prelude, ‘AK47’ guns down with an occasional Anthrax angle, but is the as-standard thrash -out afterwards, ‘Psichobelic’ and ‘Storming The Gates’ doing the same and offering the same nothing different or exciting either. A friendly old-school twist gets it way in on the chorus to ‘Platoon’, ’Cuba Death Metal’ subsequently being more of the usual style before ’The Empire Strikes First’ closes with the strongest track, hitting along the ol’ skulls with a classic speed metal swing. Pity they don’t have more of these numbers available for our attention today but they’ve been kinda fun in places and very few fans of true brutality will want to blatantly ignore this cd.

Not that bad in the end, Combat Noise could try to be a bit more original with their approach but com near these guys when they’re live and the album will seem much more exciting after.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE
Sepultura, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy, Dark Angel, Slayer & Testament.

NET: www.combatnoise.co.nr

June

Castrovalva - We Are A Unit
(Brew – 2010)

An experimental weirdo rock/metal band from Leeds, who have released a sound of brutality, base dumps and a f*ck*ng headache.

Castrovalva isn’t what you expect and are what you may hear in a garage somewhere. ‘We Are A Unit’ hits the parts of the brain that other music fails to reach. As the band pounds their way through the 12 tracks, you know the live gigs are going to be something.

As we hit the decks with the self titled intro, ‘Pump Pump’ jumps into your lap and slaps you in the face with a big wet fish, to leave you with that ‘you’ve been tangoed’ look on your mug.

The CD goes through some weird shit mixed with some intelligent riffs but overall after a few listens, very entertaining with a pleasant after taste.

7/10

By Tony Watson

CLONE CIRCLE - Behind The Wire
(Target Distribution - 2010)

Bit harsh to themselves in name considering most people are sick of being written off alone like about 1,000 other bands around the earth’s vicinity, but at least these guys take it in their stride.

They have some fairly obvious influences - the promo sheet and I saved each other a job there, Paradise Lost and Marilyn Manson being the first tow to notice. Opening title number, Behind the Wire’ is an instant hitter and not only because the chorus almost sounds like its going “The Isle of Wight” instead. ‘Undying’ and ‘Your Worst Enemy’ bring up the substance behind with deep drilled slabs of industrial gothic metal that put neat holes into the mind right away and fill them with great melody from ‘Thunder and Rain’.

Quite literal on the industrial side with its factory like sound effect intro, ‘Follow Me’ is one of those thrash out for verse and slow for chorus type favourites. Frontline Assembly mode adopted next, ‘Obey’ is indeed what C C do to their inspirations - one of the best tunes on the disc and of the genre in 2010 so far, with a wavy keyboard break supporting the chants of ’Obey…Obey!’ to create a brilliant darkly atmospheric scenario.

’Sweet Impossibility’, ’Disconnected’ and ’Save Me (Not)’ are bouncy metal crunchers that should be anticipated live set regulars with a dark aggression that would fill any room they’d strike a note within - the latter also finally treating us to a guitar solo as well. ‘Behind The Wire’, or preferably in front of it, Clone Circle are Scandinavian ingenuity at its typical greatest standards, which is great full-f**Kin’ stop. A strongly built record which makes you sit up and feel the shivers all the way through.

Essential.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet/Dirty Diamonds/Dragon Town/The Eyes of Alice Cooper
(Armoury Records – 2010)

Alice Cooper! What can you say? He is an absolute legend in the world of rock. Armoury Records have re-released 4 classic CD that were originally released in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005.

‘Brutal Planet’ was the first release for six years after ‘The Last Temptation’. Alice changed direction to keep with the new music styles that were around at that time, as he entered an industrial rock direction. ‘Brutal Planet’ is an 11 track CD that’s full of brutality, heavyness and an industrial feel from ‘Wicked Young Man’, ‘It’s the Little Things’ to the melodic ‘Take It Like a Woman’ that would have you in tears. An exceptional CD.

‘Dragontown’ entered the realms a year after and was described as the worst place on brutal Planet, with several of the characters featured throughout the CD. Still with the industrial feel, ‘Dragontown’ finishes what ‘Brutal Planet’ started with the dark feel, chaos and violence. From the beginning of ‘Triggerman’ through ‘Sister Sara’ to the Ballad of ‘Every Woman Has a Name’, Alice shows why he is still in the lime light. Excellent.

‘The Eyes of Alice Cooper’ saw him return to good solid rock music with a back to basics style writing. To me a bit of a let down from the previous two, but others would disagree. This 13 track CD has a Guns ‘N’ Roses attitude that riffs its way through ‘What Do You Want From Me’ to ‘The Song That didn’t Rhyme’ through the ballad of ‘Be With You A While’ to finish with ‘Backyard Brawl’.

Last in the collection is ‘Dirty Diamonds’ and was the 24th release for Alice. As per ‘The Eyes of Alice Cooper’ the same style, layout and cooperation were enforced. ‘Dirty Diamonds’ is another 13 track collaboration that riffs its way ‘Woman Of Mass Distraction’, ‘Run Down The Devil’ the awful ballad of ‘Pretty Ballerina’ to ‘Stand’ which also features the rapper Xzibit.

Overall this collection of CD’s is a must for Alice fans, which show a part of him that is willing to move with the times.

9/10

By Tony Watson

ANDERS CHRISS – Volatility
(TSM - 2010)

He’s from Sweden, (was) based in China and plays with the sound of umpteen things British. Anders Chriss is either inexplicably in a stew over the direction of his intended path in music or having a right ol’ knees up mother brown of a time trying out every pop and rock sound going.

Very wisely mentioning the ’p’ word at this stage, this chap balances precariously between pop and pop-rock on a few tunes amongst this nine. Coming in from the start , it’s an amalgam of indie vs. electro vs grunge, and vaguely latino, if that acoustic sound is circumstantial evidence in nits own right.

Admittedly, as warned , there are some strong Radiohead and Muse tendencies prominently roaming the disc throught every tune, but for rthe trouble, there are some sweet seventies classic rock twists scattered about, with a vaguely Styx-like chorus on ’Run Out of love’ and ’Little Man’ gets a convincing ZZ Top husk to it s voice. A impressively diversified and well prepared platter from Mr Chriss, who with his debut album inks well for the mark he may be about to make on the music scene.

Great playing and writing from another undiscovered European talent.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

January 2010
Chickenfoot – S/T (CD & DVD Set)
(Edel - 2009)

A Supergroup that feature 2 ex-members of Van Halen (Michael Anthony – Bass & Sammy Hagar – Vocals) coupled together with Guitar God, Joe Satriani & Chad Smith (Drummer of ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers).

It’s a stupid name that even they’ve admitted to that. More importantly what do they sound like? Well to me, it’s very like Hagar Era Van Halen with Satch in the place of Eddie (no doubt I could get either hailed or stoned for saying that!)– though there’s more than that at times. I even hear a bit of Led Zeppelin creeping in there and a wee bit of Extreme.

Highlights include the funky rock bluesness of ‘Soap On A Rope’; the arena 80’s rockin’ ‘Sexy Little Thing’; ‘Oh Yeah’ where Sammy wants to be your hoochie coochie man; the great stompinly riffed ‘Down The Drain’ – love the bit where Sammy calls to Joe at the start of the number; the Satch driven ‘Turnin’ Left’ and the excellent ballad come funker ‘Future In Ihe Past’ as an epic closer.

The DVD (that accompanies athe album) is a song by song guide to every number on the album that’s intercut with live footage from the Montreux Jazz Festival as well as candid shots in rehearsal and during the recording of the album. Feast your eyes on the 12 days of Chickenfoot where the guys introduce a song each by singing the title – this is pure fun.

It shows the madcap personalities of the band members and how well they get on not to mention stories behind how the songs came to be and what influenced each one just about – it’s all about e-harmony baby !!!

The sound is absolutely bombastically in-your-facially incredible and there are plenty of cool angles – love the close-ups of Satch attacking the axe !! If you already bought the album previously, it’s worth buying again for this DVD alone because it’s the best part of an hour long and is rockin’ rollin’ excellence from this fantastic foursome from beginning to end !!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

October
CAIN - The Master Clockwork
(S/P - 2009)

Swedish six-piece Cain treated not unfamiliar territory in a certainly not unwelcome way. The initial vibes of a certain new York five-piece whose name I might just let slip are obviously inescapable but the rest of the feel throughout these nine tunes is truly European as the lads themselves.

Having the some-might-say common musical decency to be an epic-free zone, their melodic prog metal still gives us plenty to savour amongst it in bursts of 4-5 minutes including their notable efforts to try doing a few things different where it fits. ‘Intelligence 101’, ‘Master Clockwork‘, ‘Red Water‘, ‘Mourning Star’, ‘Dead And The Calm’ will go down particularly well in a live set with ultra-tight displays from all musicians who work together as if they’ve been at it for 20 years.

Guitarists Pontus Lindin and Joel Eriksson leave out nothing in the ideas labs and an often thrash oriented rattle defeats the drag most doubting listeners prepare to endure and giving the soloing an electro -tinged eighties production further improves where it should irritate. A sudden burst of old-school speed metal throughout closer ‘Sink’, in the same manner Metallica like drop it in on their tunes, is Cain’s likely way of warning us that it ain’t over yet from then even if it may well be for this disc itself. Pity…..I was loving it, and I can see a fair portion of the genre’s fans thinking as the like.

Another triumphant Scandavian arrival of many that keep coming, ‘T.M.C.‘ is for its most part excellent and wastes no substance in favour of pretentiousness. Ignore this record and I think I ought to send Cain round to give you six of the best themselves.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Cars On Fire - Dig Your Own Grave
(Undergroove Records – 2009)

Cars on fire are a four piece band from Bristol who have wrapped scream core with a new age punk style.

Dig Your Own Grave is a refreshing change to the drivel that is filtering into the industry today. Cars on Fire explode into life from the first note to the last, with a collection of nifty tunes, with a collection of screams and an energy that wakes you up first thing on a Sunday morning. Dig Your Own Grave is a 7 track mini LP that wraps up who and what Cars On Fire are about. ‘Burn the Suits’ starts this 23 minute collection of punk/scream core that opens your ears and blows away all the cobwebs.

As the CD rattles through the seven tracks, it gives me a sense of delight to know we still have British bands that aren’t following the rest of the sheep and produce an alternative to what’s out their.

Well done.

8/10

By Tony Watson

CLAIRVOYANTS - Word To The Wise
(Valery Records – 2009)

More Italian magic is weaved from the melodic metal scene which the country is seemingly becoming more consistent with by the minute.

Starting life as a Maiden tribute act (the name did give me reason to think…), Clairvoyants could be mistaken for being a lot more than that despite this debut album, apart from a cover of ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’, being formed of their own self-penned product. Turning the play switch however, there’s more than just the Irons to this lot’s inspiration elements with echoes of tones of other great bands from the genre and AOR deviations aplenty throughout, mostly Manc goliaths Ten.

Strong solo and vocal input fails to waver at any single moment through ’Journey Through The Stars’, ’Choose the Truth’, ’Pain of Sight’, ’Sheer Hate’, ’Step aside’, ’Word To The Wise’ with ex-Doro man Luca Princiotta’s guitar melodies adding a superbly glossy touch. ’Hallowed..’ furthers the vibe with an added treat from lead vocal contributions from Angra’s Andrea Matos - a voice that gets as close to Bruce’s as is legal.

Powerful stuff throughout with little to no feet put wrong, these lads have worked hard first time round and we duly enjoyed the finished item immensely. A wise one to get into .

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE:
Iron Saviour, Kamelot, Threshold, Gamma Ray, Sinner, Primal Fear.

NOTE OF INTEREST:
Guest keyboards on the track ‘Closure’ performed by Oliver Palotai (Kamelot)

Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth – S/T
(Varese Vintage – 2009)

The guitarist of the New York Dolls releases a rockin’ cd in his own right alongside Phil Stewart (Drums) and Leeko (Bass).

Highlights on the album include the punky rock bar-room opener ‘This Is The End’; the gutsy rawk of ‘The Goods Are Odd’ with David Johansen guesting on harmonica; ‘Get Off’ with it’s Sultry Stonesy riffing; ‘Her Highness’; with some cool bluesin’ goin down. Then there’s ‘Busload of Hope’ with some real nice gospel like female vocals not to mention a real retro sounding big echoey guitar tone and the closing ‘Junk Planet’ that is kinda like Iggy Pop meets his day job with a real kickin’ straight-up riff.

What a great album this is!! Just as good as what you’d expect to hear from The N.Y.D. An album that’s easy to give top marks to.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

September
Carnal Rapture – S/T Promo
(S/R- 2008)

You can’t really knock anyone for trying, but Carnal Rapture I think have rushed into this one.

This 5 track promo fails to excite the dead never mind the living, from ‘Precious Time’, through ‘Caught Off Guard’, ‘Hate You and Adore You’, ‘Poison my Soul’ to finish with ‘Arms Tied Back’ Carnal Rapture beat away at their drums in a complicated manner that isn’t necessary singing in a rough and tough vocal content that drones on with the bass guitar to be swallowed up by the Primus style guitar work.

Overall I think Carnal Rapture should sit back and say to themselves, do we need to sound like The Dillinger Escape Plan with a mix of Primus or should we just learn to play and put music together in a fashion that doesn’t over complicate matters.

Personally I think they should give up. Very poor

2/10

By Tony Watson

Chickenhawk - A. Or Not?
(Brew Records – 2009)

Chickenhawk are from the metal underground scene, which reflects through out this 3 track EP

A. Or Not? Is a very rough mix of metal with pounding drums, growling vocals and rough and grinding guitar work. This EP is as rough as it gets, with ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’, ‘Son Of Cern’ and ‘NASA Vs ESA’ but the band does get across what they are about, which comes very close to early Will Haven.

If you like the rough underground metal this is a must.

7/10

By Tony Watson

June
Chickenfoot – S/T
(2009)

A Supergroup that feature 2 ex-members of Van Halen (Michael Anthony – Bass & Sammy Hagar – Vocals) coupled together with Guitar God, Joe Satriani & Chad Smith (Drummer of ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers).

It’s a stupid name that even they’ve admitted to that. More importantly what do they sound like? Well to me, it’s very like Hagar Era Van Halen with Satch in the place of Eddie (no doubt I could get either hailed or stoned for saying that!)– though there’s more than that at times. I even hear a bit of Led Zeppelin creeping in there and a wee bit of Extreme.

Highlights include the funky rock bluesness of ‘Soap On A Rope’; the arena 80’s rockin’ ‘Sexy Little Thing’; ‘Oh Yeah’ where Sammy wants to be your hoochie coochie man; the great stompinly riffed ‘Down The Drain’ – love the bit where Sammy calls to Joe at the start of the number; the Satch driven ‘Turnin’ Left’ and the excellent ballad come funker ‘Future In Ihe Past’ as an epic closer.

Well worth buying and playing – wish they were doing a UK Tour and not just 1 date in London.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Citizen Charlie - S/T
(SKU – 2009)

This self-titled CD is from a very enthusiastic Norwegian female rocker who takes no shit; Citizen Charlie was formed after the collapse of the previous project Charlie’s drugstore.

Charlie decided to go solo and in doing so has produced an eleven-track 40-minute masterpiece. Her style of rock is based on the Hellacopters, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Motorhead, Joan Jet and Patti Smith with a vocal content of Courtney love and Amy Lee.

Citizen Charlie gives there all throughout all their tracks, filling the airwaves with good solid rock attached to a rebel attitude. From the start of ‘Pulling out your nails’ to ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Poser’ through ‘Running Wild’ to finish with ‘Holding On’ Citizen Charlie will engulf any listener into the world of rock.

7/10

By Tony Watson

Les Claypool - Of Fungi and Foe
(Prawnsong – 2009)

When Les was with Primus you know he was one crazy fucker with the style base playing and the vocal content, but he has definitely surpassed himself here by supply us with a 12 track collection of weird and wonderful sounds and freaky lyrics. I think Les is either a genius or a complete nutcase, but this collection of tracks has totally lost me, I haven’t got the foggiest what the hell is going on.

Know matter how much I liked Primus, there were some tracks that didn’t make sense but once you got past those tracks the CDs were works of art. Is this the case for this one? I don’t know? I cannot give you a truthful answer to those questions.

All I can say is that ‘Mushroom Men’ was made for a Game by the same name, but we also have wonderful tracks, such as ‘Booneville Stomp’, ‘You Can’t Tell Errol Anything’ And ‘Ol’ Rosco’ that makes you love this guy, but the rest is a bit too freaky. What a dam shame.

5/10

By Tony Watson

Cold Truth – Do Whatcha Do
(S/R – 2008)

Awesome Southern Rockers from Murfreesboro, Tennessee who have some deep rooted elements of Free & Bad Company both musically and vocally but have also carved out their own mark on the outstanding Dixie sound that can only come from artists who live and breath the sound and experience of living in these parts of the USA.

13 is definitely a lucky number for these guys as every single song is an absolute joy to take in with a great deal of stand-out songs that include ‘Shakedown’ where he’ll be waiting by the county line; ‘Cold As Hell’; ‘If That Ain’t Enough’ with Ed King on slide guitar that also has wonderful bv’s from Nancy Roark; the incredible ballad ‘Peace With Me’ that reminds me kind of ‘Ride On’ by AC/DC and even This Flight Tonight by Nazareth.

Then there’s the later Skynyrd like ‘This Time’ which you’ll agree when you agree the opening riff and chorus section about taking things when they are offer because they don’t last long or the fast ‘n’ tonkin’ ‘Payin Dues’ and the closing ballad ‘Ligh My Way’.

One hell of an amazing band that I feel proud in hearing and reviewing. You must check these guys out – www.myspace.com/coldtruthmusc or www.coldtruth.net

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

March
The Chelsea Smiles – S/T
(DR2/Global Music– 2009)

A decent bunch of sleazey rock numbers from a cool sounding band from the US of A – Hollywood, California to be exact that features ex-Danzig & D-Generation member Todd Youth.

Sadly though, the production lets it down as the sound is way too compressed making the overall mix of the album very muffled. That said, there’s some great songs in the hot punk edged racin’ ‘On The Run’; ‘Action Coming Down’; the downbeaten but rock-it-out ‘So Low’; a great cover of The Rolling Stones ‘The Last Time’ and the closing acoustic number ‘Broken Lullabies’ that reminds me of a decent Oasis number done unplugged.

See them live in the UK in 2009 with Wednesday 13.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Richard Christ – S/T
(Narcotica Publishing/Killer Pool Records – 2008)

An artist who totally reminds me of Marilyn Manson crossed with Sisters of Mercy and Wednesday 13 – Gothic Metal I guess you’d call it.

It’s very much shock-factor stuff of a similar vein with highlights being the opener ‘Eyes’; the fast ‘n’ heavied up ‘Richard ‘n’ Roll – a la Rob Zombie; a great cover of ‘Call Me’ by Blondie though I’d personally like to have seen it less electronic; the disturbing freaky intro’d ‘Revolution Drugs’ or the closing ballad I’d think you’d call it ‘Grey Day’.

Good album but not one to play if you are feeling suicidal.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

February 2009
Circus Boy - Are You For Real
(Circus Boy Music/BMI – 2008)

Is it Dead Kennedy’s? No! Is it Nomeansno? No! Is it DOA? No! Is it Bad Religion? Or is it AOD? No! As we can see it’s none of the above, which is probably a good thing.

Circus Boy have that Detroit underground feel which shouldn’t have surfaced. This hardcore underground punk feel should have been left in the late seventies and early eighties, in-fact the guys on the front cover seem to have been from the seventies and are wanting to get their youth back.

Musical wise I think they are playing the same cords in the same order with an additional hit of the tin cans to change the beat slightly.

Overall as underground punk goes, if it’s your stuff you will enjoy it, but if not keep clear.

5/10

By Tony Watson

Calie Cox - Obvious
(Independent Records – 2009)

We have a very talented individual who can play every instrument placed in front of him. ‘Obvious’ is an interpretation of 80’s style epic rock with bands such as Rush but without the keyboards, even the vocal content is very close to Geddy Lee of Rush.

This CD is a very calm a collective collection of music that is very entertaining to listen too. With the Rush influence there is also a hint of Led Zeppelin and Marillion to bring the whole CD into a class of it’s own.

This 13-track epic rock compilation gives a full hour of classic rock with a subtle vocal tone that keeps you drawn into the track.

7/10

By Tony Watson

December
Cockpit – Mission To Rock (E.P)
(Pedal To The Metal – 2008)

A hot 4 piece female quartet based in LA – in fact the lead guitarist/backing vocalist was from Sheffield and played on our scene on a regular basis.

This CD is packed with killer hooks and piping vocals and they come across like a female AC/DC crossed with elements of Lita Ford and Joan Jett.

Every number is a corker indeed with highlights for me being the opening title track ‘Mission To Rock’ and the monster partyville Young-like riffed ‘Gun For Hire’.

More, More - Yes Please.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Cornerstone - Head Over Heels
(Atom Records - 2008)

Cornerstone is a four-piece melodic rock band from Austria. On first impressions I thought of The Cranberries but without the Irish feel.

This thirteen track CD provides a very pleasant and atmospheric feel throughout the whole album, with the gentle vocals of Anja Schirmers that sets the melodic scene.
This who CD is inoffensive to any listening ear from track one ‘Something to Say’ to ‘I Can’t Even Say’ through ‘Fade Away’ to finish with ‘Stefania’, every song is played and sung as if it’s their last.

A very exciting CD that puts you in a state of calm from stat to finish, very easy to listen too and very easy to understand. This is melodic rock at it’s best.

9/10

By Tony Watson

The Cotton Soeterboek Band – Twisted
(Caf Fine Records – 2008)

These are a great band and come across like a Southern Rock-like version of Whitesnake complete with vocalist, Robert Soeterboek who even sounds like David Coverdale as well.

Every single song is a pure joy to hear and there isn’t many albums you can say that about these days. This makes it easy to find highlights – the entire CD – all 9 songs of it from ‘Set Me Free’ to ‘The Game’. Each song is really polished off with solid warm Hammond sounds from the keyboards.

Love the country-like ballad ‘Leave Me Blue’; ‘Colorado’ which he is going back to; ‘Pretty Maureen’; ‘Little Sister’ with the amazing multi-tracked choral sections and even a number called ‘(In The) Still Of The Night’.

Real pleased I had the honour of hearing and reviewing this CD.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Crack Horse -S/T
(Dead Famous Records - 2008)

With a name like Crack Horse, I expected a stoner rock sort of band, and what a shock I got, Crack Horse are nothing I have heard before, they are a rock version of the Scissor Sisters but without the gay attitude.

This twelve track CD is really funky, energetic with a rocky dance floor feel. From the start of ‘This Song Might Safe The Planet’ you have the urge to get up and party, which in may case is a good thing if we want to save the world. This attitude rolls out through ‘Fixed’, ‘Help Yourself’, and ‘Radio’ to finish with ‘Out of the Dark’.

With the doom and gloom throughout the world, this is a must feel good CD that will have everybody dancing like a gay dad.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Cream Pie – Dirty Job
(S/R – 2008)

Seems that all the Sleaze seems to be coming from Europe these days, with the Italians having their own cool batch too – a good example being this hot quartet ‘Cream Pie’.

Every song is spot on, no matter where you go here you are bound to like it – if you like the soundz of dirty sunset strip stuff that is. Highlights include ‘Tokyo Nightz’; ‘Leave In Coma’; ‘Electric Blue’; ‘So Bad’ & closer ‘Hungry For Mayhem’.

Good album.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

November
Civet - Hell Hath No Fury
(Hellcat Records - 2008)

It’s nice to have an all female band once in a while, Civet are a punk rock quartet with an attitude that kicks ass.

The first thing I thought of was L7 then I thought of Girl School, then I thought of Rock Bitch, then I thought this CD is a mixture of all these bands with their own punk rock influences and attitude, which comes across very well. The production of the CD has come across with a raw feel to it, which I think helps the way the band comes across.

This 13 track CD starts as it means to go on ‘Do a Line (of alibis)’ to ‘Bad luck’, through ‘Gin N Tonic’ to finish with ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ shows how these rock bitches mean business in the world dominated by men. These girls aren’t going to take any sh*t from anyone.

7/10

By Tony Watson

Coerced into Battle - Enemy Mine
(Rising Records - 2008)

A Californian trio full of hate, aggression and power, release their debut album that has more balls than a kiddies ball pit.

A ten track CD that delves into the lungs of hell with full on thrash, death and hardcore metal that engulfs a tornado of vicious energy which picks you up and spits you out like a piece of sh*t.

This violent masterpiece is an energy releaser, as soon as you put track one on ‘Erase the Mind’ it defiantly does that, you totally forget you are in your living room and all you want to do is go out onto the street and thrash about with some little death banger or show an emo what life is about.

As the CD develops so does the solid relationship with life, love, hate and politics… let the battle begin.

10/10

By Tony Watson

August
Circle II Circle - Delusions Of Grandeur

(AFM Records - 2008)

CIIC is a Florida based band formed and fronted by ex-Savatage singer, Zak Stevens.

'Delusions..' is thier fourth album release, the line up remains unchanged from the musician overhaul after the debut without any influence from notable fellow Savatage members Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery. Zak appears to have relished this new opportunity and with a solid band base, including a multi-talented Paul Michael Stewart, have grown to find some form.

The single from this album 'Every Last Thing' opens with piano and tender vocals before moving through the gears and showcasing Zak's voice. Also evident here is the balance between heavy and melodic power metal backing up the vocals. This, I'm pleased to say, is also the case across the album; 'Dead of Dawn' and 'Waiting' stand out for me as best examples. 'Fatal Warning' opens the album on a somewhat unexpected heavier note (given their previous album based on the Da Vinci Code, Burden of Truth) but on the whole treading a line that would satisfy the majority.

With such a strong vocal performance the music can tend to take a back seat, only allowed to shine during breaks in the lyrics, though ever-present. Every word is clear and the lyrics are direct and instantly catch your attention which is slightly unusual and refreshing.

Production-wise you could argue Zak needs the equivalent of a 'fist up his french horn' to take some of the edge off but what the hell, if you''ve got it why save it for the live album!?

8/10

By Al Hoath

COLDSPELL - S/T
(Self-Released - 2008)

Cold….now look laddie, I know Britain isn’t known for its lovely weather in August but there’s no need to rub it in like….. Oh, it’s all well, they’re Swedish (YES!!!) and a melodic rock act (YES again!!!) so we know there’s plenty in just a name.

’Fade Away’ is Rainbow and Y&T colliding on a narrow road at alarming force with a guitar rhythm fender-bendingly close to the former’s classic ’Stargazer’. This vibe continues slightly into a brief moment in 'Keep On Believing' with the vocalist himself exposing his Joe Lynn Turner -esque range and yes we do keep on believing what’s to come with the five remaining tunes.

Guitars aren’t a weakness for these chaps and this track pleases with its solos while the bluesier lines of the following two, ’Ravin Mad’ and ’All In Want’, gives away the many 70’s bred acts sitting amongst their influence list. ’Surrounded’ brill song that it is as well isn’t a million miles distant in sound from one or two songs by fellow Swedes, Talisman, I might just let slip and the solos are kept classy in fitting this impression.

With enough tricks up their sleeves already, they turn on the style a la Simple Minds a bit for ‘Solid Ground’ but there’s stil that strong Scandi air drifting amongst the Scottish one there. ’Greed’ Is more Rainbow flavoured fun with a dash of UFO from the key section and track eight….oops I forgot there’s not that many. Well its’ nice been hearing you, chaps. Very nice.

A solid rock hard lump of classic traditional hard rock that turns the clocks firmly back 25 years and hopefully not to come forward again. Fabulous stuff. Glenn would’ve loved this one….too late mate, I’ve done it now.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider
(SPV - 2008)

A brand new concept album from the master of rock n roll sickness, Alice Cooper who presents us with the story about a serial killer called 'The Spider' - so why's he called that - buy the album and find out!

Eleven ditties of wrongness await in this cd - it ain't for the faint hearted but definately for ones who want something that's a cross between 'Brutal Planet' and the age-old classic 'Welcome To My Nightmare'.

Songs that really stood out for me personally were the opening too close for comfort 'I Know Where you Live'; 'Vengeance Is Mine' the harmonica featured 'Wake The Dead' the ballsy partvillianesque '(In Touch With)Your Feminine Side'; the ballad 'Killed By Love' where Spider wants to be forgiven and the excellent macabreness of 'I'm Hungry' that reminds me of 'Is It My Body?'.

Alice Hits all the right spots yet again.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

C-T PREVAIL - Mean Season
(Morningstar Records - 2008)

“I would like to take you on a strange journey” offers one nice old gent at the start. Would that be one that doesn’t involve hearing another disc-ful of bog-standard hate-core metal din? And would your name be Jeffrey Archer by any chance in that case as that exactly what this Scandi quartet more or less inflict on us here.

Not robbed of redeeming factors, a few numbers of its fourteen do have some passable rhythms and one or two real stompers and the instrumental near the end saves it from total lack of interest, but its still too much of a day at the office otherwise.

For those totally glued to the scene only, but for those wanting to be introduced - Hey, I know, what about….. Loud, shrieky, earsplitting, normally lyrically meaningful but quite often musically directionless, like this.

Will that do you?

5/10

By Dave Attrill

July
Chokehold - The Sweet Sense Of Genocide
(Self-Released - 2008)

It's been a rough year for Oxfordshire based metallers Chokehold, but after going through the motions with their former label and waving goodbye to a few members; the band appear to be back on track and ready to pick up exactly where they left off with their new opus "The Sweet Sense Of Genocide".

Kicking off with the visceral "Life On Loan" through to the caustic "Blindfolded"; a rhythm lead beast, that later erupts into a full on At The Gates-esque thrash throwdown, with all the subtlety of a back street brawl. This is before we're thrown kicking and screaming into the guttural assault of "Post Work Syndrome", a 4-minute, moshtastic assault of the senses, that hammers home the fact that Chokehold are back with a fucking vengeance.

Not one's to rest comfortably on any particular flavour of the metal banquet, the band proceed to toss in some Pantera-esque influences into the mix with stunning results, as demonstrated on the malevolently destructive “Die Free” and the aural annihilation of “Eyes Of Democracy”, slabs of quality southern metal that sit neatly next to the likes of innate fury of “Pay, Pain, Crave” and the Biohazard-esque “Gutterman” like they were soulmates.

Fact is, if it's a well rounded, brutal as holy fuck metal album that you're after, written by pissed off young men who've had enough of this dank pisshole of a country we inhabit, then Chokehold are very much your men.

7/10

By Tom Brumpton

Cubensis - Metaphysical Impact
(666 Productions - 2008)

Oh, now this is more like it. Y'see, as a freelance scribe, I seem to be a target for whatever sh*te record labels are peddling as "The Next Big Thing" every week. And while every so often they send out a corker, 9 times out of 10 they send you a terd; a stinking, wretched excuse for aural pleasure, that fails to meet even the most basic of requirements when it comes to penning a half decent song. Don't you feel sorry for us poor scribes? No? F*ck ya then..

Anyway, back onto the topic; the new album from French polymath metallers Cubensis easily qualifies as said corker. Absent are the awful haircuts, the non-sensical cliches and the general shoddiness that many modern bands seem content to deliver, and in their place are mountanous riffs, earth rumbling vocals and an overwhelming and concussive percussive assault, tightly wound into a violent, eerie and overall enthralling musical experience.

From the Meshuggah-esque, disjointed rhythms of "Metaphysical Impact" to the pummelling aggression of The Greed, Cubensis offer a musical assault that combines incredibly technical music that while complicated, is incredibly accessable; boasting thick grooves and incredible vocal melodies, akin to that of fellow countrymen Gojira.

The only real sour element to Cubensis are their lyrical content. Let's be fair, any album with a track titled "Mother Ball Break Club" deserves another glance before deeming them either genius or idiots. Then again, if this is overlooked you're left with a simply incredibly album that's rife with intriguing ideas, top-notch writing and an overall sensation that these quirky frenchmen really are onto something.

In a nutshell, while this isn't a million miles away from Gojira or Meshuggah, this is still a mightily enjoyable album; complex, yet catchy, brutal, yet melodic; Cubensis may have written one of the finest metal albums of the year. All they need now is that final boost to get them to the astute level of their countrymen.

Best of luck.

9/10

By Tom Brumpton

June
Crossfire – Dirty Games
(Perris Records – 2007)

A real together, precision tuned bunch of party-positive fun-filled rockers from Israel – yes you read that right – kinda like Slaughter meets Def Leppard & even a bit of Tyketto in there as well plus other bands of that ilk.

They are extremely harmonious and melodic that the chicks are bound to swoon over – they can catch your attention with the keyboardy Bon Jovi’ish ditty opener ‘Heartbreaker’ and turn to mushy romantic female grabbing material like the ballad ‘All I need’ then whisk you off with ‘Dirty Game’ and uplifted on ‘Show me the way’ or the Malmsteen-like ‘T.K.O’ before languishing us with the lovely closer ‘Heaven Is Waiting’.

First ever 80’s LA-inspired band from Israel – the flag is yours guys so wave it well.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

May
Crowning Glory – Path To Glory (E.P)
(S/R – 2008)

Excellent quality 5 tracker of classic 80’s Metal – think Judas Priest meets UFO and other elements as well along the way.

Goes to show that the UK still has Metal bands it can be proud of (these guys hail from London & Birmingham to be exact.) They deliver songs as trad metal and in-ya-face as good as ‘Sea Of Dead Dreams’ & ‘Sands Of Time’ and also try and bring newness and freshness into it too. Included are a couple of live tracks as well – one of which is their single released on ‘Rise Above Record’ which I fully recommend – this being ‘Dead Man’s Paradise’.

They have supported the likes of Orange Goblin & Skindred already and played Bloodstock too.

Big things for the future – this is metal!

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

CRY FOR SILENCE – The Glorious Dead
(Visible Noise – 2008)

Since forming in 2000, Watford's Cry For Silence have made quite the impression. They've opened for the likes of Sepultura and My Chemical Romance, played the prestigious Give it A Name festival, and inked a deal with Visible Noise. Now with the pressure firmly on for the boys to deliver on record, will CFS's debut outing, ‘The Glorious Dead’, offer the opening shot needed for the band to rise through the sanctimonious ranks of metaldom?

Exploding into the blistering salvo of ‘Nightmare’, a vicious slab of Carcass-buggering-Meshuggah-esque extremity, the band deliver a thrashier approach to the Metalcore formula than that of the “twidly-bit-breakdown-scream-repeat-formula” of their peers. While the insane guitar work of ‘A World Benign’ and the slow burning ‘Into The Sun’ echo the sounds of a band that, over time, have become masters of their craft.

The only problem is, CFS aren't touching on any new ground and unlike their acclaimed label-mates, the band aren't leading, nor starting a trend, they're simply following. And it isn't long before Adam Pettit's weak vocals begin nagging unbearably, as his piercing wail resounds throughout the title track like a tortured scream in a subway tunnel. While lacklustre instrumental ‘Beneath The Storm’ is a blasé exercise in laziness, leaving the impression that Pettit was probably just sick that day.

While they're not the most original bunch, Cry for Silence are still a relatively good band and ‘The Glorious Dead’ is still a relatively strong opening statement, but as to whether it'll open any doors for the band in the long term is yet to be seen. As sounding like the b*st*rd child of Unearth and As I Lay Dying leaves them running the precarious risk of disappearing into obscurity once the trend dies out.

If CFS wish to gain any sense of longevity, they'll have to work a lot harder on album number 2 in order to win over the broader minded audience.

7/10

By Tom Brumpton

January 2008
Coheed & Cambria – No World For Tomorrow
(Columbia Records – 2007)

One of the most interesting major signings in years who remind me of a mixture of Faith No More & Skunk Anansie and even the deepness of Pink Floyd & Iron Maiden at times.

They were at Download last year and I missed them – dammit – missed out there big style if this album is anything to go by. A very eclectic mix of rock, metal and pop all rolled into one making it impossible for lazy journalists out there to pigeon them in any single genre making it a score of 1-0 to C&C.

Each number drags you in with highlights being the title track ‘No World For Tomorrow’; ‘The Running Free’; ‘Mother Superior’; ‘Gravemakers & Gunslingers’ and then there’s the epic 5-song strong ‘The End Complete’ with the fabulous orchestral like ‘The Road & The Damned’ – what a build up to a chorus section and my, what a gorgeous chorus it is too.

I gotta sat that albums don’t get any better than this.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

J.C. Cynel – Before My Eye
(S/R – 2007)

An artist who I discovered via myspace – an Italian artist who has a liking for Southern Rock and other similar styles of music. He is also the frontman for a band from Italy called Black Widow.

It’s relaxed material that has some gorgeous country elements and reminds me of Eagles, my 2 buddies Bryce Barnes & Joey Monroe of The Oysters in Fort Myers, Fl. USA,and Crosby, Stills & Nash etc – you’re catchin’ on then – well I hope so.

Highlights on here include the southern rockin’ ‘Ships In The Wind’, the brilliant laid-back countryness of ‘Out In The Frontline’, the epic ‘Brush My Cymbals’ – that reminds me of Supertramp’s ‘Rudy’ gone deep south with a really strong southern feel to it with its guitar work and harmonica intro. ‘What I See’ with its bright magical melody and vocal harmonies and the optimistic closer ‘Taking Chances’ because life is good to be living as J.C. tells us.

Can’t help but really like this album a lot. Go to www.myspace.com/jccynel for more info and of course www.jccynel.com

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

November
Clawfinger – Life Will Kill You
(Nuclear Blast – 2007)

I didn’t realise these were still going but am pleased to say they sound as strong as ever – I remember them in the earlier part of the 90’s with songs like ‘Nigger’ (an anti-rascism song actually) and ‘Tell The Truth’.

Rappin’ and singing away with crushing riffery about topics including parental child abuse in ‘Little Baby’; mortality in ‘Life will kill you’; Isalmic Suicide Bombers in ‘Final Stand’ or looking at your days positively like in ‘It’s Your Life’.

Decent enough album but not the most exciting one out there.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

CONVERGENCE - Points Of View

About as aptly descriptive a name as they could pick to call themselves, Italian four-piece Convergence have most certainly done that with the variety of inspirations relied on for this, their debut album. Categorised under nu-metal on the promo A4, they do bear a likeness, in particular vocally to scene legends Korn but also take in similarities to Sick of It All, Boy Sets Fire.

Thrash-oriented opener ‘Bleed’ pounds with an intense old-school metal rhythm that dominates the tune, but for the remaining nine numbers, we seem to be taken in all directions but thankfully not too many at once. Albeit adding a wholesome industrial edge that matches the sound of Frontline Assembly and Fear Factory quite closely at small but distinct intervals, the whole album maintains a largely melodic leaning for the most parts of its duration contributing factor of which existing in some rather ‘Black Album’/’Re-load’ – era Metallica rhythm guitar crunching.

My point of view here is, simply, this one’s a belter, boys, and I don’t get the privilege to say that about a lot of nu-metal releases. ‘Six Feet Under’, ‘Always The Same’, ‘Vanished Memories’, ‘Silent’ and ‘Train To Leave’ having already established that, along with ‘Bleed’ of course, the genre often reviled by veteran metal followers has served up one much more likely to entice the doubters.

The occasional dragging moment intact, ‘P.O.V.’ is credit done to the contemporary metal scene and success for this promising band is deserved.

Italy does it again.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

August
CANDLEMASS - King of The Grey Islands
(Nuclear Blast - 2007)

Swedish doom goliaths Candlemass help keep strong the vast collection of bands that refuse to be buckled by the changes in musical trends as time passes.

After about two decades in the trade, the veteran sextet still ply their trade in dark and brooding but melodic metal noise that relies on depth ad feel more than speed and aggression. Bucketloads of the former two abound here as per norm and although it quite easily picks up where their self-titled previous album left us, two years back, tunes like ‘Empreror Of The Void’, ‘Of Stars And Smoke’, ‘Demonia 6’, ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Clearsight’ make this album stand on its own.

Not that the music is entirely their own, listening to that blatant rip off of the intro riff to Slayer’s ‘Dead Skin Mask’ that kicks off closer ‘Embracing The Styx’, their musicianship is as equally powerful if an almost together different animal to what the LA thrash legends embody in the extreme metal circle. The melodies both on throat ad strings stay with one all the way through and captivate, fully in leiu of just serving as an excuse to knock the stuffing out of one another in a future moshpit.

Heavy music for those grown up enough to appreciate the thought put into it, Candlemass’s flame never manages to stay out no matter how hard you blow on it.

Recommended - equally so for new fans.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

CAPDOWN - Wind Up Toys
(Fierce Panda - 2007)

The first time I encountered Buckinghamshire Ska-sters Capdown was their support stint with US legends Less Than Jake on their 2001 UK trek and it’s since taken me half a decade to catch up.

Without intending to rub any fans up the wrong way, I am not a particular nut on the genre but have lent my ears to enough to know belters from...beer mats when it comes to dishing the dirt on such an album. Quite some time itself since their last full-length album, the Down boys haven’t exactly walked on ignored and if anything, should replenish their cred six-fold with this beaut’.

Opting for the more punkier, guitar prominent elements of the ska sound rather than just sit on sounding like a second division Madness as do a fair few bands of this scene, these five jolly young men keep me listening non stop through all twelve and while there are the usual tiny portion of less than incredible intervals the disc rocks as a whole. Stick ‘Blood Sweat and Fears’, ‘....Toys’, ‘Terms And Conditions Apply’, ‘Surviving The Death Of A Genre’, ‘Thrash Tuesday’, ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ or ‘Strictly Business’ on your spinners and you should see what I’m on about.

Kindly don’t disappear six years again, please, lads.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

CAUSEMOS - Severed Senses Combined (3-track demo)
(Self-Released – 2007)


Gearing up to be a bit of metal’s answer to Kimi Raikonen, these four lads are both Finnish and fast but not boring as a fair loadful of other black metal acts, whose offerings are thrown our way, variably tend to be.

Indeed they put a lot of the ideas into their sound as stated on the promo sheet though an industrial feel is the most notable.

Noisy but nice, three songs by a band of this genre is usually about enough for me but this time round, more would have been welcomed.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

CHEOPE - Downloadideas
(Heartlines - 2006)

Cheope are a five-piece progressive nu-metal band based in Rome, they have two guitars in the lineup and also introduce electronic samples into their work. By listening to this album you begin to realise that Cheope aren't quite your run-of-the-mill Nu-metal outfit, they will drag in elements to their work that will remind the listener of numerous other artists.

I'd have to describe the album as 'experimental' because it appears to be, as the album title suggests, a melting pot for the different ideas the individual performers have for the bands direction. Unfortunately there isn't anywhere near enough of the right influences on offer here to keep me interested. The tracks lack sufficient weight and gravity, the melodies are few and far between and I couldn't help but feel disappointed by the absence of any notable twin-guitar attack, which
is a shame as both guitarists have talent.

On a positive note I noticed numerous skillful rhythm changes and the vocals and lyrics seem to fit into the scheme of things rather well. Still, I think yet another person airing their views as to how Cheope should proceed is the last thing they need. As it is, I can see 'Again', 'On Air' and 'Face to Face' being popular and would recommend these to people as being indicative of the album.

Give it a go.

5.5/10

By Al Hoath

  "Blast from the Past"

Cannibal Corpse - Butchered At Birth
(Metal Blade Records - 1991)

I became hooked to this release when it was finished and out in stores. The
production by Scott Burns was amazing. Every instrument (Guitars & Battery) as well as the vocals by Chris Barnes were awesome. Actually Barnes didn't have much variety in their vocal department so Glen Benton did some backup on "Vomit The Soul". Of course the graphics offend a lot of people and I think that was CC's ultimate goal since Death Metal during this era emphasized a lot of offensive graphics (Deicide - "Once Upon The Cross") as an example besides this one.

Every track on this release rules though I tend to favor the opener the most "Meat Hook Sodomy". CC was not as technical with their riff-writing as they are nowadays. I think that the simpler riffs tend to captivate the listener a bit more especially the thickness of the guitar pieces and overall production indeed. Barnes' vocals were the lowest I've heard from him even more so than on their debut CD "Eaten Back To Life".

If you are a die-hard Death Metal fan then this CD is for you! I can't stress how many times that the riff-writing was not only original but heavy as all hell!

Track listing:

1. Meat Hook Sodomy
2. Gutted
3. Living Dissection
4. Under The Rotted Flesh
5. Covered With Sores
6. Vomit The Soul (Featuring Deicide Vocalist Glen Benton On Backing Vocals)
7. Butchered at Birth
8. Rancid Amputation
9. Innards Decay
10. Covered With Sores" (Live) (Bonus Track On Remastered Version)

9.5/10

Reviewed By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

"Blast from the Past"

Children Of Bodom - Hatebreeder
(Spinefarm Records/Nuclear Blast - 1999)

Even though this CD has a plethora of Mozart rip-offs I still think that it's one of COB's best records to date. The intro to this album is actually from the movie "Amadeus" with Salieri uttering "from now on, we are enemies. . You and I" He was speaking in terms of the Crucifix and in the movie he burned it because of his envy towards Mozart.

I'd say this CD is pure Melodic Death Metal Alexi kicking ass on Guitar/Vocals shows sheer talent with speed and precision on both Rhythm and Lead Guitar Work. Alexander puts together an awesome effort as well on Rhythm Guitar. The band as a whole worked wonders on this release. Just check out "Bed Of Razors" and you'll see what brilliance and technicality from the entire band!!!

There's a mix of extremely fast tremolo picked guitar work, keys as well demonstrating awesome tie-ins with the guitars, the drums fast paced and on cue and Alexi's vocals feature mostly high-pitched screams with a little bit of clean as variety. The production by Anssi Kippo does a great job giving each instrument precision in the recording.

Alexi on lead shows us such well designed solo work plus incorporating like I mentioned earlier Mozart cuts very well executed. The band wholeheartly kicked serious ass on this album. Another track to take a listen to would be "Warheart".

Track listing:

1. Warheart
2. Silent Night, Bodom Night
3. Hatebreeder
4. Bed Of Razors
5. Towards Dead End
6. Black Widow
7. Wrath Within
8. Children Of Bodom
9. Downfall

Credits:

Alexi Laiho - Vocals/Lead Guitar
Alexander Kuoppala - Rhythm Guitar
Janne Wirman - Keyboards
Henkka Seppälä - Bass
Jaska Raatikainen - Drums

By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

"Blast from the Past"

Cradle Of Filth - Dusk And Her Embrace
(Music For Nations - 1996)

The intro to this album is quite dreary and solemn which describes the mood
or aura to this release. Segueing into "Heaven Torn Asunder" the opening guitar sounds awesome with a great tone to it. It's still up in the air as to whether Cradle Of Filth is Gothic Metal or Black Metal. I think that there's a touch of both on this release.

I think Dani's vocals are the highest pitched on this release never again to be duplicated in the entire Cradle Of Filth discography. For some people it's a little too extreme but I think the vocals are phenomenal. It's not just the screams there are lower pitched vocals as well just not as prevalent as the high-pitched screams.

This album is anything but boring. Very intense I'd say with an array of blast beats, tremolo picked guitar frenzies, well mixed in bass guitar and of course Dani's onslaught. Production wise this isn't their best I'd have to say that their latest "Thornography" is one of the best productions they've ever had on a full-length release.

Dusk And Her Embrace packs with it many different things such as the variety in the vocal department, a mixture of guitar both at fast paced onslaughts as well as slower melodic sections, and the drum department displaying an wide array of different time signatures. This remains to be my favorite COF release although "Thornography" is up there as well.

I'd have to say that if you are not a big fan of high-pitched screams from Dani then this release is not for you. There are also British women speaking on some tracks adding a little bit more of variety to the vocal department. Best to try out some tracks to see if this release is something worth getting. Of course I'm biased because it's my favorite but you can hear for yourself "Heaven Torn Asunder", "Haunted Shores", and "Funeral In
Carpathia" for starters.

Track listing:

1. Humana Inspired To Nightmare
2. Heaven Torn Asunder
3. Funeral In Carpathia
4. A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)
5. Malice Through The Looking Glass
6. Dusk And Her Embrace
7. The Graveyard By Moonlight
8. Beauty Slept In Sodom
9. Haunted Shores

9.5/10

By Death8699 (MethylinInfo@aol.com)

Neil Carswell - Good Man’s Journey
(East Winds Records – 2006)

Solo album from the frontman of Southern Rock band ‘Copperhead’ and draws you to his attention from the start with ‘The Cain Preacher’ and keeps you there throughout with his real life stories about livin’ in the South. There’s special guests on the album too – Barry Goudreau (Boston); Johnny Neel (The Allman Brothers); Stu Kimball (The Bob Dylan Band) & Chris Anderson (The Outlaws) that make it all that bit more special

The material appears more laid back and autobiographical than what I have heard on the Copperhead ‘Live & Lost’ CD – a good example being the beautiful ‘Righteous Side of Life’ that’s got Gospel and country aspects running in the song and ‘Never Been Born’ about his child with his mum and dad when he lived on a farm.

Love the close to the bone ‘Edge of the Green’ – Daddy won’t ya spare me a little change – what a song man, what a song !! – a real epic of a number as is ‘Malibu days’ with its crackin’ bit of organ playing.

Check him out via www.neilcarswell.com

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Copperhead – Live & Lost
(Eastwind Records – 2002)

Fancy a nice musical mix of Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet & Lynyrd Skynyrd ? Well I do anyway and you should too !!

4 numbers live and 8 from the studio that sees my hearing the sounds of the south just the way I like it - this band rocks and blueses out the way you’d want them too leaving a full indication that these boys are the authentic real deal – I mean they even cover ZZ Top’s ‘Whiskey Mama’ much to my delight – a classic from the ‘Rio Grande Mud’ album released back in ’72 – even the ‘Texan Trio’ haven’t played that ditty in years as well as doing a heartfelt cover of ‘Drift Away’ as well.

Their own songs are absolutely killer - take the opening instrumental ‘Stricken’, the anthemic ‘Hard Livin’ or ‘Whiskey’. They also get deep and ballady as well on the brilliant ‘Voices in the Night’ or slide guitarin’ ‘I’ll Get By’.

The Southern sound don’t get much better that this.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

2006
CIRCLE TO CIRCLE - Burden Of Truth
(AFM - 2006)

Zak Stevens…where has this bloke been hiding then? Hardly a hair of him since he left Savatage six years ago and then he pops up from just about no-where.

Obviously parting company with power metal’s greatest ever band took its toll on his commercial credibility so badly that he was forced into a low profile for a bit - come on mate, they do at least have Jon Oliva back now. Or has he just been busy working his musical socks off ever since?

Well, he does seem to have picked up four good looking young men en route - nothing dude meant by that of course – and while none of their names or faces ring any bells, their style has and who else better for Zak to take on the job with his latest exploit. Aiming for a darker more gothier edge than before, C.T.C. are very much as metal as you’d expect but matured for this side of the millennium and Zak’s range resembling Eddie Vedder’s more by the minute means that there is almost no attempt to drag a dead horse to its feet with this outfit.

Velvety melodic metal with superb stringery courtesy of Messrs Lee and Christopher maintains the still strongly vintage angle on the sound as to minimise offence to purists and their sound veers surprisingly close to Brit hair rock legends Shy on one number a band who would have also benefit immensely more with Stevens’s soulful voice.

A welcome and very masterfully crafted return from one of heavy metals most respected throats. Zak Stevens, don’t you dare ever disappear like that again, you naughty ….. You’re forgiven mate.

Belter.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

Cactus – V
(Escapi Music – 2006)

They recently reformed with Jimmy Kunes from Savoy Brown on lead vocals. I read about these guys lately before the album came out and wasn’t too familiar with them but I knew who Carmine Appice was since he was Rod Stewart’s drummer for a few years plus a member of Vanilla Fudge as well.

This album is pure 70’s rock and blues all the way through the fourteen tracks and it’s class stuff with highlights including the opening ‘Doing Time’; ‘Cactus Music’; ‘Hi in the City’; ‘Electric Blue’; ‘Blame/Game’; ‘Gone Train Gone’.

Ya just can’t beat this.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

COLDSEED - Completion Makes The Tragedy
(Nuclear Blast – 2006)

In every generous batch of discs Glenn (Editor) drops on me to write up, I can Almost always rely on one or two from Germany’s Nuclear Blast label amongst the many and this time was no exception.

Coldseed are probably their greatest discovery of late, even if their style takes some surmounting. Kicking in with roaring industrial thrashcore for the opening number but about halfway through becoming something sounding like Corrosion of conformity, circa ‘Wiseblood’ is n almost dead cert guarantee of getting most Metal fans confused.

One is reminded of a more commercialised Fear Factory, by most of these twelve numbers but with bigger hooks and a lot more old-school flavour in guitar styles - check out some frighteningly Megadeth/Anthrax oriented attacks…. and yes we have solos as well (I think you are confusing me now, Dave - Ed’). An extraordinary yet incredible album, ‘C.M.T.T’ is a colossal work that I’ve rarely heard any other band attempt to assemble let alone to such astounding end product.

A lot of preposterous conglomerations fall flat on their face but Coldseed don’t even come close to losing balance with this. The fastest growing seed of metal’s future has been sown - kept the patch well watered.

9.5/10

By Dave Attrill

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE Fear Factory, Shadows Fall & Anthrax

Crescent – S/R
(S/R – 2006)

A traditionally sounding Heavy Metal/Power Metal band whose vocalist ‘Chris Parrish’ has a large range of baritone to squawking tenor.

Not the best sounding of CD’s as its rather flat and mono– well this is a self produced demo for gods sake but if put in a studio that a band like Blind Guardian and Hammerfall would use and the right Producer and Engineer then these guys would sound miles better and stand a chance of competing with the big bands out there – this is a start though.

Of the six strong song cd highlights include ‘Forgotten Future’ and ‘Garden of Memories’. Look out for ‘em at a metal venue near you.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Roger Chapman and the Shortlist – He was, she was, you was, we was
(Angel Air – 2005)

Now friends, here’s the vocalist of Family, Roger Chapman caught live with his Shortlist in concert in Kiel, Germany, 1981 at the Ost Halle.

This is a re-release and was originally a Rockpalast show and focuses on Roger’s ‘He Was’ album. There’s some outstanding material on here such as the opener ‘Higher Ground’; ‘Blood and Sound’; the quirky ‘n’ weird, reggae’ish like ‘Hyenas only laugh for fun’; the uptempo dancing ‘Night Down No. 2A LA ZZ’ that sees Roger opening the song up with the opening verse of The Supreme’s classic ‘You keep me hanging on’ before driving into some crackin’ sax playing.

You get a grippin’ medley that features The Beatle’s ‘Slow Down’ to the mandolin like intro of that’s coupled with Chapman’s ‘Common Touch’; the well known ‘He was, she was’ ; a nice bit of Hendrix’s ‘Stone Free’ – love that cowbell in the background.

Let that waling, vibrato tenor of Roger’s up your night for a while – if ‘Unknown Soldier’ doesn’t then nothing will.

8.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

July
Caroline Blue – Slave to the Hourglass (E.P)
(WWJ Productions – 2006)

A good ole metal 3-piece from Syracuse, New York who take us back to the mid 80’s with their Kiss like sound and Paul Stanley’ish vocals. It’s a five tracker with songs that have cool playing and plenty of hooks such as those found in ‘Mine, Mine, Mine’ or the cheesey lyriced ‘The Queen of Pleasure’ with its throbbing distorted rhythm playing.

Keep the cd player on till track 13 as it’s really funny – a telephone call of complaining from their landlord.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Casus Belli – In The Name Of Rose
(Limb Music Products/SPV – 2006)

Demonic high speedin’ power metal from these German Metallers – you simply don’t know what to expect with a name like Casus Belli do you – Deep, dark, heavy as sh*t Malmsteenesque like material that is on full pelt virtually throughout the album. Racin’ double bass drummin’, chuggin’ guitar riffery, galloping basswork and a throaty buy ever clear vocal style.

Highlights on here include the opening ‘I’m your master’ the title track with it’s melodic cavalcades of milestone solos; the bulleting machine gunning of ‘Isolation’ – a la ‘Painkiller’ Priest; the Faith No More like ‘Naked King’ with blinding tremolo guitar solos and ‘Eastern Dance’ – especially the extraordinary guitar solo from 1.37 to 2.26 plus it’s a right blaster of a song too. What’s amazing is they finish it off with a slow beautiful acoustic/electric instrumental entitled ‘Whispering’.

They stand out from Europack for sure when it comes to power metal stylings.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Chrome Division – Doomsday Rock ‘n’ Roll
(Nuclear Blast – 2006)

Motorheaded leather clad mothers who got the dirty guitar chops and bashing at you ferociously in the vocals department – I just know you’ll believe me when you hear the 1st vocal effort ‘Serial Killer’. They are actually somewhat an underground supergroup made up of Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir (Guitar); Tony White of Minus Tirith (Drums); Luna of Ashes to Ashes and on vocals Eddie Guz of The Carburetors & Ricky Black (Guitar) – they are all Norwegians as well.

This album will shake you up 1st thing in the morning - it did me – it fully sorted my head out big style with cutz like ‘Chrome Division’; the Harleyfied ‘Trouble with the Law’; the brutal battering ‘When the sh*t hits the fan’; the head-boppin’ ‘We Want More’ and the road-trodden ‘Till the break of dawn’.

Wonder if these motherf*ck*rs will tour – I’d go see ‘em for sure – if you put this album on for a chick and she digs it then you know you’ve got the right woman for sure.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Creech – Take It All
(S/R – 2005)

A band from Australia that are kinda new-breed punky alternative and come across very fresh. ‘Far Too Sober’ and ‘Maia’s Teething’ have that Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots thang going down with an almost Mike Patten vibe at points in the songs – well to be honest the majority of it does – must be a big thing in OZ at the moment.

That’s a f*ck*n’ crackin’ solo in ‘Take It All’ and has got a little bit of ‘Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ style thrown in there for those who love that southern riffery. Finishes up with an undelightful ditty called ‘Donald’ who ain’t got a house is lonely and whatever else – I guess it’s Mickey Mouse’s Duck mate.

One for the grungers to revel in.

7.5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Jan-April 2006
Celtic Frost - Monotheist
(Century Media – 2006)

“Highly anticipated comeback album”…”first for 13 years”. These are some of the phrases that graced me from the page of the press release I was holding in my hands upon receiving this Cd to review & by f*ck is this quite rightly “highly anticipated”.

Celtic Frost have held true to form & released a “come-back album” with a truly dark, heavy, utterly raw, droning & almost doom-like drudgery about it. But by no means is this a boring release, far from it, as the first track of the Cd “Progeny” kicks in with an almost tribal guitar riff then explodes into mid-paced blast beats courtesy of Franco Sesa, any listener can hear they’re in for something truly monolithic. As always the Anti-Christian sentiments run throughout this release & are accompanied by a truly crushing, perhaps even minimalistic, instrumntal work.

Tracks that stood out to me on this release: “Progeny”, The first track & a fistful of total fucking aggression. “A Dying God, Coming Into Human Flesh”, an acoustic beginning accompanied by haunting vocals that evolves into a truly crushing monolithic chant. The purely hateful “Domain Of Decay” & “Ain Elohim”. Celtic Frost true to their aggressive headbang-fodder form & the last beautifully depressive instrumental track “Winter (Requiem Chapter 3: The Finale)”.

I have to say this is the one album I’ve heard from an old classic band like Celtic Frost than has impressed me even more than their previous offerings. A raw, back-to-the-underground, heavy sound entirely true to form. I highly recommend this to all old Celtic Frost fans, not to mention those of the Black & Doom Metal inclination!

9.5/10

By T.Xjort

CHILDREN OF BODOM - In Your Face (1-track promo)
(Spinefarm Records)


Black metal favourites Children of Bodom are an ever hyperactive machine on the scene, and this is another slab of their breakneck old-school intensity as only they know how.

For the less-initiated of you, they are a little more melodic than you may expect, - they actually sing as well as shriek their guts inside out - and though in possession of over familiar guitar rhythms, they are all the worth checking.

In your faces as they always are.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

CRIMES OF PASSION - S/T (3-Track EP)

Rising from the ashes of Rotherham rockers Deadline, who changed their name, and almost totally their sound with the addition of ex-Tikaboo Peak crooner Dale Radcliffe, Crimes Of Passion have already made a sizeable reputation for themselves with their demo selling out at several gigs last year. Luckily, for those missing the old stuff from ‘Mind The Gap’, consolation can surely be found here in three impressive numbers from their already swollen catalogue.

We find Dale still in powerful voice, especially on the excellent ‘Exit Wound’, a tune which still retains elements of their Harem Scarem sound but more combined with Dokken and early Skid Row’s classic melodic metal style all carried to soaring heights by Andy Lindsay’s distinctive guitar style.

On sale at their gigs, this one is worth picking up and supporting the start of another great South Yorkshire act in the making.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

March
BOB CATLEY - Spirit Of Man
(Frontiers - 2006)


Quite doubtlessly Bob Catley is one busy old chappie of late, with his commitments to reformed legends Magnum which of course include the recent ‘Storyteller’s Night’ anniversary tour. Which is why we’ve had to wait over 2 and a half years for this, his fifth solo album. On one side that’s a good thing as some of us would have done with this time, to tear ourselves away from its phenomenal predecessor ‘When Empires Burn’.

On another side, it’s given one of his longest serving backing band members time to jump ship, keyboard king Paul Hodson seemingly too busy with Ten and other things. Enter Irvin Parratt who makes his presence felt very strongly on this album, alongside drummer Jamie Little, still here from last time.

Still in situ of course are Bob’s longstanding old muckers Al Barrow and Vince o’ Regan, and joined by another familiar face on the Brit AOR scene, Lost Weekend’s Dave Thompson, who adds additional harmony guitar layers as well as contributing to the writing on most of the 12 numbers.

Quite clearly Bob’s longest album, at something close to sixty five minutes, O’Regan’s incendiary progressions once again keep things motoring almost all the way along whilst that unmistakable Catley throat collectively dominates. Sadly, Vince’s band Pulse are no more but at least his style and presence are very much maintained, not unlikely owing to working on this project so soon following. Ironically enough, his melodies are just sometimes a little Lost Weekend-ish too but put anything under Bob Catley and he’ll apply his mighty lungs to the cause.

A little less instant on some occasions, a few numbers collectively lack the pull of the previous offering, though only just enough to lose one point, I am still looking forward to hearing powerful tunes such as ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Moment Of Truth’, ‘Blinded By A Lie’, ‘Judgement Day’, ‘Walk On Water’ or ‘End Of The Story’ on this April’s UK tour.

‘Spirit Of Man’ is in general a very good disc despite the trivial flaws aforementioned and is an essential part to any Catley /Magnum collection.

Recommended.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

ALSO RECOMMENDED
BOB CATLEY - When Empires Burn (Frontiers 2003) - If you haven’t got it yet, give yourself a smack on the hand.
PULSE - Worlds Apart (Frontiers 2004)- Blinding British melodic rock, featuring Bob’s guitarist Vince o’Regan.

(** Just gone to press at time of writing, Al Barrow and Irvine Pratt will not play on the UK tour – they will be replaced by Gavin Cooper (Bass) Oliver Wakeman (Keys.) respectively.

CHARGER/BIRDS OF PARADISE - Split single
‘For All Intents And Purposes’/’Ornine Utopia Anthem’
(Calculated Risk Records)

Charger’s contribution to this double A-side, is subtitled ‘You Are already Dead’, which may work as a tactical description of their fortunes if they fail to produce anything more listenable than this twelve minute lump of totally directionless industrial dirge which I just manage to sit through in its entirety. Repeating the same riff for two thirds of the duration tests me as it is.

The latter act are better but no more than acceptably so, same sort of vocals though very badly affected by the mixing, but to more a tuneful musical trek, adding in pin-prick pinches of pop and blues twang but still nothing to get too excited about overall. Still, they’ve got more than just one song - I hope - of their making so maybe next time..

5.5/10

By Dave Attrill

CHINCHILLA – Take No Prisoners
(Armageddon Music - 2004)

On first listen to this album the sound was reminiscent of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and WASP. The fast opener ‘The Almighty Power’ had certain thrash/punk elements that weren’t to my taste but ‘Death is a Grand Leveller’ soon caught my attention showing good promise. ‘The Call’ has strong Maiden vibes, ‘The Ripper’ reminiscent of Halford both musically and vocally. All three tracks were catchy and in my opinion showing a welcome departure from the first track with good melodies that were well performed with good guitar throughout and some great bass in ‘The Call’.

The title track, ‘Money Talks’ and ‘Rich Hounds’ all had that distinct punk feeling, faster tempo and blatant over-repetition emphasised by some unimaginative drumming that proved a little tedious for me. ‘Lost Control’ was an improvement if only for a deep, rich guitar hook but the lyrics in the verses sounded awkward and a little forced into the music.

‘Silent Moments’ showed another more refined side to the band that I found impressive. The slower pace seemed to bring a better quality of vocal talent from Thomas Laasch (who sounds like Bruce Dickinson in this track) and the violin was also well used in the background.

‘Stillborn Soul’ was my favourite track from the album; again set at a slower pace it plodded along well with lyrics and grows on you with each play. This track has a strong melody and has none of the faults I outlined on some of the earlier tracks – great work.

In summary, a bit of a mixed bag but overall enjoyable and worthy of recommendation.

7.5/10

By Al Hoath

City Weezle – S/T
(S/R – 2005)

hailing from the Mike Patton school of music – well they do give this impression anyway. It’s funky, crazy soul stuff with quirky vocals. Grade A students with mad arrangements

You simply don’t know what’s gonna happen next – so god knows what these guys are like live. A band who deserve to be signed up and heard.

9/10

By Glenn Milligan

Alice Cooper – Dirty Diamonds
(Spitfire/Eagle – 2005)

Mr. Furnier’s current release that is similar to his previous effort ‘The Eyes of Alice Cooper’. On this album you get 13 songs that were written in as many days but this time with the allowance of more production coming from Rick Boston (Rickey Lee Jones) and Steve Lindsey (Elton John/Leonard Cohen).

The line-up is the Alice Cooper (Vocals/Harmonica); Ryan Roxie (Guitar); Damon Johnson (formerly of Brother Cane) and Drummer, Tommy Clutetos. There’s an army of other guests on here that include keyboard player Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis, most notably of GNR fame.

Songwise there’s everything you’d want from an Alice Cooper album – twisted humour – a good example being ‘The Saga of Jesse James’ about a cross-dressing cowboy that is reminiscent of ‘The Ballad of Dwight Fry’ but in a Texas style. There’s ‘Woman of Mass Distraction’ with its sultry cookin’ riffage – a classic play on words and the Beatle-esque quality of ‘Perfect’ about a girl who can perform in the shower … ooer – he’s talking about singing actually but falls to pieces at the karaoke bar.

Cooper’s cover of The Left Bank’s ‘Pretty Ballerina’ is real nice and he sings that in a beautiful yet uneasy tranquil style. He’s soon back to his stick the dagger and sword in style song with ‘Sunset Babies (all got Rabies)’ that takes the piss out all those good lookin’ but braindead blondes – it’s pure rockin’ singalong Alice humour. Other highlights include the ‘I can’t explain’ like ‘Your own worst enemy’ and the biggest turn up for the books being the bonus track called ‘Stand’ - a rappin’ thang with Xzibit.

It’s album that goes towards setting the standard of shock rock ‘n’ roll with its clever lyrics and first and foremost, hot entertainment.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Cosmic Ballroom – Your Drug of Choice
(Roastinghouse Records – 2005)

Slammin’ punk glam 4 piece from Sweden, blowin’ the dust away throughout this album – it don’t let up from ‘Barely Legal’ to ‘Psycho’.

Imagine Therapy meets Teenage Casket Crew, the 3rd release just keeps going rock n roll , party on, bash, bash, bash. They have even toured with the Big Bang Babies and The Hellacopters and it ain’t hard to see why.

Crank it up and stand well back.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

CREOZOTH – Creozoth
(Escapi)

With a name that sounds as bit like that funny green stuff you put all over your garden fence, Creozoth have quite a colourful approach to their ssociated area of noise, delivering a palatably Testament-ish power metal assault.

Relying on scope for substance, to pepper their product with a contemporary vibe, inspiration for true metal fans young and old alike, with meaty rhythm guitar lines in particular adding sturdiness to all twelve songs.

Playing jointly in their favour is the ‘gothic-toned echo effect used on some of the vocal parts throughout the album, which vitally contributes to its latter-day essences.

Creozoth’s main down-letting is that only seven numbers are particularly or nearly instant on the listener and the others would have thrived from bigger vocal hooks but for those who approach the album with purely instrumental aspects in mind, there’s less disappointment.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

2005
CLUTCH - Pitchfork & Lost Needles

Hardcore legends Clutch were one of the scene’s top bands that I never managed to get a good full length spin of when I was into it, full on. This latest offering, despite being an odds n’ sods affair, throws a little light on what I’ve probably been missin’. I HAVE caught the odd tune or two of theirs over the years so am not speaking from total lack of knowledge.

Sporting melodic guitar lines for a band at the heavier end of the HC. spectrum, the Madball-esque range of frontman Neil Fallon therefore seems to stand out as the solely fulfilled regular obligation but it obviously forms distinctively more accessible material that way. Might decent in the main and like I mentioned earlier, I have actually heard a little bit of their stuff before, so I should be safe in saying this more or less meets expectations but I’d still suggest you give it a listen first if you can.

7.5/10

By Dave Attrill

CUSTARD - Wheels Of Time
(Mausoleum Records - 2005)

Er, excuse me, do you mind just repeating that name again. Now look, I don’t care what country you’re from, boys but calling a heavy metal band ‘custard’ is an own goal, on the commercial front, of the utmost magnitude.

Provided you can cross the obstacle that is their more-than-a-little-questionable moniker, their sound is about 99.9 percent less absurd than forecast - in fact remarkably akin to another Gerry fivesome that have been doing the rounds for the last couple of decades (their name begins with ‘H’ by the way). Twin guitars as opposed to one set of strings and one row of keys, they have, all the same, a very symphonic list in their sound but avoid the epic territories their fellow mainland contemporaries constantly wonder into - the longest song here being 5min 28.

Vocalist Guido Breke boasts a range not totally unlike TNT/Westworld wailer Tony Harnell but some of those backing harmonies with the four other fellas does almost prompt pressing of the ‘skip’ button every now and then. Assuming that some will be no doubt listening for hook value, do not despair as this line of rock does still deal, and paired with their preference to keep things short, sweet and straight, and welcome but not over-formulaic guitar activity, - depending on how most purists judge - you have a band placed firmly at melodic power metal’s better end.

A custard you can enjoy without worrying about any skin forming on top.

8.5/10

By Dave Attrill

Also Recommended :

LAST TRIBE Witchdance (Frontiers 2002)
Incredible second album from Swedish symph’ metal kings with more than a little Dream Theater in their sound, especially vocally. Check out 10/10 review on our site for the full picture.

PAN RAM - Rats (Event Records 1996)
Pleasant dose of melodic prog metal in Queensryche-meets-Balance of Power vein. If their name sounds vaguely familiar to anyone, they supported Deep Purple in the UK on the 1996 Purpendicular tour. The album may probably be only available on order now and it is advised that you mail their distributor label, SPV for help on how to trace info on this unknown group.

CARNAL RAPTURE – S/T (3Track Promo)
(Unsigned)

Back on with the sweet names again are we? Mind you, Carnal Rapture’s sound isn’t, instrumentally speaking that un-sweet itself, trying to slide progressive funk-edged twangings and beats comfortably under the….. well you probably know what the vocals are going to be with a name like that.

A weird combination but watch out, it may yet work.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

CATFISH - The Teaser (7 - track Demo)
(Unsigned - 2005)

This 'ere fangled idea of blending psychedelic fuzz and alt rock sounds together seems to be catching on, doesn't it. Unlike full use of such technique to write SONGS.

Sadly committing almost the same crime as Tronin but not quite as seriously, the first half of this mini-album sounds like and is just muddled pieces of strange dark noise, lasting from 1-and-a-half to three minutes while the final four tracks just about sound like this band have actual tunes to speak of.

Sadly, it still all gets lost in the mess and a case of all image and no content looks quite inevitable.

3.5/10

By Dave Attrill

ALSO AVOID
Tronin - Alienofilia (Unsigned 2004) 2.5/10

Cherry St – Monroe + 3
(Perris Records – 2004)

More AC/DC like stuff from Cherry St. Starting with my fave ‘Dogtown’ and goin into more rock n roll party sleaze. It came out originally in 1996 and features on vocals ‘Marq Torein’ from Bulletboys and Kevin Steele from ‘Roxx Gang/Mojo Gurus’.–

They always put a smile on my face. I dig ‘em – Sin City here I come !! If only they’d play over here.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

Cherry St. - X-Rated
(Perris Records)

Very like their label mates, Broken Teeth., the music is a staple diet of AC/DC, AC/DC and a bit more AC/DC -.

Slutty sounding songs splattered at you in less than half an hour.

It's all good stuff, making it hard to pull out stand outs - I'll give it a go tho. OK, notebooks at the ready - be sure to crank up 'Luv Junkie'; 'Red Devil'; and the 'beatin' around the bush' like 'Whiskey' - oh f*ck it, it's all a big highlight, so who am I tryin' to kid.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

CHROMA KEY - Graveyard Mountain Home
(SPV/Inside Out - 2004)
I’ve known of this act for a while now… and I’m starting to wonder why, on finally listening to what these prog ‘sensations’ have to offer. Generally speaking there’s nothing particularly musically inept about their brand of smooth acoustic driven noise except that it doesn’t exactly hesitate to bore the s**t out of me.

Initially it seems an interesting idea but after about three tunes you know it’s going in no real direction with absence of hooks or any real catching factors, and vocals that sound like someone was accidentally picked up humming along to this in the studio ruin things even more. Strictly for the ‘nuts’, I’m afraid.

4/10

By Dave Attrill

COURAGEOUS - Inertia
(Mausoleum - 2005)


The label who've just supplied me with a absolute stonker from Imagika (see 9/10 review elsewhere on the site) also sent me this almost equally commendable disc from German melodic metallers Courageous.

A tad tricky to categorise as almost anyone who listens to just one or two tracks of this platter will grasp, some smart young hooked up on the hint that throwing together Thrash, Hardcore and Goth into the same jar and shutting the lid firmly fro a few hours makes fro sweet listening. 'Inertia' seems to have it proven in almost its own way. If you enjoy In Flames or a less industrialised Fear Factory and with no less than three different lead vocal styles alternating shifts throughout, this band might meet with most of those preferences.

A combination of styles that hasn't totally eluded me before, and on most attempts to work it succeeds. Well, for these lads it does, anyway.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Crucified Barbara - Losing The Game (Single)
(GMR Music/Black Egg - 2004)

Scandinavian female 4 piece that are a cross between Rockbitch Girlschool and Broadzilla all rolled up into one - Girls with balls who can play real well too - yes I am talking musically before any of you get rude!!

'Losing the game' is an bolshie number against blokes who don't treat women with the respect they deserve - It's presented as an edit and full album form. These girls have class as they've performed a killer version 'Killed By Death' by Motorhead !! My fave number by them as well.

Nice One !! Looking forward to the full album !!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan

Dec. 2004
CROPMENT - Spiral Of Violence
(Fast Beat Records - 2004)

The dreaded old story again, ladies and gentlemen. Name I've never come across this side of my birth, meets music I have, more than my share of times necessary. This Swiss fivesome's typically tedious deathly seethings ride atop predictable and quite often recycled-sounding 200mph guitar rhythms, with occasional surprises but little else.

As always, recommended with no hesitation for fans of all things 'Grrrrr..' but for those seeking anything to go 'ooooo!!!' at, you're probably only likely to end up going bo-o-o-o at this instead.

Another too average day on the job.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

CHAOS STAR - The Scarlet Queen
(Holy Records - 2004)

Just to warn those of you in the habit of judging books - or CDs for that matter by their cover, this is another of this label's belly-dives into more deeply diversified waters in order to stretch the parameters as wide of the more common sounds associated with the metal genre as is acceptable to most.

If you like a blend of orchestral-based sounds with a dark brooding overtone, however, and more than a few well-accommodated gospel-esque moments to boot, then you should not have too much against trying this one out. The tunes are pretty well varied in their directions and the gothic feel remains in effect throughout, a bit like those magic images of dolphins that are supposed to show up when you look at those collage pictures of oranges or bananas laid out on city street pavements, for half-an-hour or so, though this album is still a lot less patience testing than those things.

Absorbing stuff by the end of the day but I recommend most of the even slightly doubting give it at least a second spin before making judgement either way.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

August
CHERRY FALLS - Standing Watching (1-track promo)
(Universal/Island - 2004)

Another lot latched by the growing craze of coupling alternative rock rhythms with Hard Rock/AOR - influenced harmonies, 'Standing Waiting' picks me up from the start and more or less keeps me with it all the way. The hooks are not at times the biggest I've heard but after three listens it's proved quite absorbing,

If you like the recent albums from top Canadian melodic rock act Harem Scarem (as I do), this proves quite recommendable.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

Crimson Altar - The Ghost Ship Sails
(S/R - 2004)

A darkish UK based metal outfit with a straight sounding female lead vocalist who give us 8 songs of majesticism - it's cheesey and I think that it would be betterly suited to the European and Japanese market rather than to the UK.

The vocal harmonies aren't brilliant but it's sound enough musically - although it's rather heard it before a million times. Crimson Altar have plenty of enthusiasm though.

Check it out yourself and make your own mind up.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

March
Cherry Street - S/T
(Perris Records - 2003)

Doing the 'DC the AC' way in good old LA. Tom Mathers (of Perris) has his band rippin' at us with plenty of full-frontal rock 'n' roll with killer cookin' cuts.

It reminds me of a cross between Strongheart (ther song 'Dogtown' especially) and splatterings of Rhinobucket. There's tons of partyin' highlights such as 'Heart of Stone'; 'Me against the world' and 'Black 'n' Blue' and enough dirt and grit to fill a highway maintenance skip.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan

February
Crown 10 - S/T
(So Cal Records - 2003)

No it ain't nothing to do with paint or a type of car but 'Crown 10' are in fact a Californian trio that features 'Joel Maitoza' who was the drummer for '24-7 Spyz' who were a kind of Hendrixy 'Living Colour' mixed in with elements of 'The Dan Reed Network'. This band is more like 'Alice In Chains'.

Many of the songs sound very similar and have a kind of downward spiral feel to them but I do recommend the track 'Innocent' if nothing else. The album is tedious and not what dreams are made of - unless they are dismal ones.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan

Jan. 2004
The Cooters - The Moon will rise again
(T-Bones Records - 2002)

Hailing from Oxford, Mississippi, The Cooters are a highly entertaining bag o' 'billies who I'm sure must have changed their names sometime in the past and were actually members of some crazy 80's grindcore bands. They go by the names of Judas Cooter (Drums, Vocals and Alto Sax), Raw (Guitar, Vocals, Tenor Sax) and Neuter Cooter (Bass, Vocals, Moog, art and design)

It's metal and completely nuts - take the hectic 'Purge' for instance and 'Purge Reprise', strangely enough, straight after it - bizarre or the cracking 'Punch yer neighbor'. 'Unclaimed Furniture' is an absolute hoot - a 'cooter hoot', I add which is actually a phone call to audition to become a singer in a band - it's OTT and well worth checkin' out. These guys even have there own 'Cooter Theme' that a bangin' bit of country that's perfect for a barndance.

This is zany, southern humoured and a 100% grower. File in between your 'Lawnmower Death' records and your Emmerdale 'Woolpackers' album that you stole off your mum.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan

Dec. 2003

California Guitar Trio - The First Decade
(Inside-Out/SPV - 2003)

Acoustic and Electro-Acoustic instrumental pieces from the CGT - 19 in all that are intricate, relaxing and perfected exceptionally well such as the sharp 'Melrose Avenie'; the powerful almost Pink Floydy meets John Williams 'Kan-non Power'; the Led Zeppy calm and energetic trilogy called 'Train to Lammy Suit (parts 1-3) and the Spanishy 'Great Divide'.

One for the musical lovers of the wooden guitar.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

David T. Chastain - Rock Solid Guitar
(Leviathan Records - 2002)

Chastain, the man behind Leviathan Records throws another instrumental album at us. There's Rock, there's Blues, Rock-Blues (Dancing with Devils Mistress), Stripper likened slutty blues (Getting a little crazy), Jazz in 'Keeper of Tomorrow' and even a salute to AC/DC's Young Brothers in 'Hats Off to Angus and Malcolm'

This guy can basically play any style of music and proves that fact here - OK, there's no country but no doubt he's an expert at that too.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CONSPIRACY - The Unknown
(SPV/Inside Out - 2003)

There are some things that instantly work miracles within a music scene for a
new act hoping to attract its initial base of appeal. Such is the case in the
ever ingenuity-propelled industry of progressive rock where just mentioning the
magic word Yes anywhere on the sleeve is as good a substitute for a
'recommended' sticker as you can find. Though the names Wakeman and Anderson are nowhere to be seen on the sleeve, Chris Squire has stepped into the light to show that other members of the legendary act have their equal share of
extra-curricular talents too. Most would predict this as being either almost
identical or as far away as one could run from the dealings of the Brit
supergroup, but Mr Squire seems content to play the happy-in-between game in
this room.

Mixing elements of his day act with slices of stripped down, smoothed
out AOR in the Newman vein, and assisted ably in the process by Billy Sherwood,
also a former member of Yes and once Bruce Gowdy's pre-Unruly Child band World Trade, this chap is another taking the advantage of his musical and
compositional skills to the max. The disc has its draggy bits though little of
them and as a whole the nine-tune offering serves as a wholesome addition to any
prog rock library.

Recommended.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Alice Cooper - The Eyes of Alice Cooper
(Spitfire Records - 2003)

 

Detroit's famous make-up wearer has now ditched his nu-metal dirgy style of the last two albums 'Brutal Planet' and 'Dragontown' and gone back to the roots for a good old rock 'n' roll garage like get it down on tape album - it's easily the best he's released since 'Trash' and recorded by the guy who goes by the name of Mudrock (Godsmack's Producer).

Alice's gutsy rock 'n' roll and sick 'n' twisted lyrics have hit an all-time high and especially on 'Man of the Year' about a guy who's perfect but bored and then blows his head off - there's even a gun click to give the impression he's pulled the trigger - followed by a verse about his funeral being perfect as well. Then there's 'Novocaine' about a feeling no pain or a jump back to the style of 'Welcome to My Nightmare' where 'This House is Haunted' scares the sh*t out of the faint hearted and concerns a man who sits in his house with the ghost of his girl who has committed suicide.

'The Song that didn't rhyme' is pure Cooper humour about precisely that. Mr. Furnier also salutes his birthplace and artists like the MC5 in 'Detroit City' - oh and while I'm on the subject of Detroit 'Wayne Kramer' of the MC5 plays additional guitar on the opener 'What do you want from me?'. Alice even admits that he felt or feels like an outcast who's trapped 'Between High School and Old School'.

This is an outstanding album and he hope he continues like this until he's hung, electrocuted, guillotined or buried alive. Sh*t, things like that happen at every show - but I've heard the current tour is completely back to basics without all the theatrical props - with songs like this as good as this you can get by without 'em.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CAUTERIZE - Something Beautiful (1-track Promo Sampler)
(Wind-Up Records - 2003)

Having only one song to assess a band on the account of is quite often annoyingly hard, but when the band is of that most predictable of all genres - pop-punk, hearing one tune is like hearing all of them as the ancient proverb says. On the brighter side, Cauterize aren't the worst I've picked up recently and although little originality exists herein, 'Something Beautiful' is still a bit of fun for the three minutes that it's playing for, and a likely chart success on this isles. Not all that bad, this stuff really, is it.

7/10

By DaveAttrill

CLAMS - Stray/Try & Fail/Capricorn (3-track promo sampler)
(Boss Music - 2003)

No, it's not a renaming of Ginger's short-lived project with Life Sex & Death/Anti Product man Alex Kane that fell so flat on its arse a few years ago but a new band who just happen to have a similar name, that's all (I hope).

Frankly though, while a totally different bed of roses, this sampler, whilst not particularly abysmal is little other than particularly so-so in its average-y industro-garnished alternative rock content, although the acoustic instrumental at the end batted an eyelid. As always a possible case, they could have some great songs on offer and I just happened to have been landed with the less advisable selections.

5/10

By Dave Attrill

Kory Clarke - Opium Hotel
(Cargo Records - 2003)

Warrior Souls frontman will roll your rock and mysteriously will have you thinking "What the hell was all that about? But I dug it anyway". Imagine mixing in Marilyn Manson, Hawkwind, Nine Inch Nails and at various points in the proceedings get all experimental and weird on you and then branch out into Stoner rock before sailing into abstract oddness - well that's exactly what this album is like.

When you then consider his political angst, social awareness and environmental issues you realise that this is gonna stand out from many releases out this year - unless Korey brings another album out in the next few months.

He's out on tour in the UK soon with support coming from the excellent Sheffield outfit, 'Induce'.

8/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

July 2003
CAGE - Darker Than Black
(Massacre Records - 2003)

I've often seen this lot's last CD filed under melodic rock in specialist rock store shelves but on the enclosed print for this, their 2nd album, the style description of San Diego's 'Cage' makes them out to be more of an extreme metal act. So who's bluff do we call here then. Cage sit moored between both ports or to cut to the facts - this is a very good melodic power metal album.

Opening cut 'Kill The Devil' - as the title incriminates - may be more clichéd than is worth thinking about - but the Judas Priest-educated chirpings of frontman Sean Peck, with deviations at appropriate intervals into goth and death-ular tones work in distracting one from the album's sole flaw.

The strumming and the drumming sustain excellent momentum throughout though solos are quite limited in both length and quantity - not the seemingly endless shred-fests that Messrs Tipton and Downing made the trademark of herein mentioned Brit metal legends over the last two or three decades.

'Wings Of Destruction', 'Kill The Devil', (yes I still sort of liked it despite its title and lyrical content) 'White Magic', 'Chupacabra' and 'Door To The Unknown' are songs on an album that will to this genre of metal do little either in the way of increasing commercial credibility (sadly) or furthering disrepute.

As regarding the faithful, it's a wet dream for the majority of Priest fans walking the planet. Own it.

9/10

By Dave Attrill

BOB CATLEY - When Empires Burn
(Frontiers/Now & Then - 2003)

When Bob Catley released 'Middle Earth' two years back, most including myself were speechless at its power. Aided again by Ten motivator Gary Hughes, it was a giant amongst melodic rock albums of the new millennium. And then the way of the world rendered Gary unable to ink a fourth contract but Catley was left in a very short-lived limbo if any at all. Bob's Hard Rain/solo touring keyboardsman Paul Hodson saw the vacancy straight away and took it with both hands and on account of the standards excelled here, a third one was possibly involved too.

An orchestral intro could not seem more appropriate for such a masterpiece as this and guitarist Vince O'Regan's equally drilling intro into 'Children Of The Circle' is immediate testimony of his musical prowess that's licensed also his first studio outing with the great man. (I take it Bob was impressed with the Pulse album then).

'Children' is almost immediately established as a Hodson-brand number, despite sounding like any of the best tunes off Ten's 'Babylon' and 'Far Beyond The World' albums, the latter Paul's debut with the Mancunian goliaths. An incredible tune not only for such obvious reasons, neither does 'Gonna Live Forever' deviate from such description in the slightest, armed with one of the most memorably choruses Bob has ever sung and bring to mind one or two tunes from 'Storyteller's Night'.

'The Prophecy' and 'I'll Be Your Fool' uphold such standards with absolutely no bullsh*t and bring to mind melodies from the 'Tower' and 'Middle Earth' discs. 'Every Beat Of My Heart' and Meaning Of Love' are two mind-numbing lumps of AOR that distance themselves from Catley's past associations as far as the fence allows - Catley stretching his soul as far as it can go without ripping it. The title track and 'This Is The Day' arc back to 'Robe'/'Spellbound' ear Ten with '.Day' led off by a clean snippet of Hodson's talents on the playing front, which align with those of his in penning.

'Someday Utopia' is one of the fastest tunes Bob has ever fronted and alongside Hodson's hitherto mentioned day acts also sports a vague Royal Hunt inspiration. 'My America' begins with a few bagpipes. Yeah, right .. that makes sense and so it ends though is a superior tune to the Magnum number of similar name and is the only really 'Legends' -esque number on the disc.

Coming on to the two bonus tracks finally, 'Heaven Can Wait', while being the second Iron Maiden title Bob's stolen, is very much in the same mould as 'I'll Be Your Fool' but with surprising as it seems even better vocal melodies and demo 'When The Earth Lies Still' - which I HOPE will be kept for the next album is a modern day 'Les Morts Dansant'. A piano/vocal only number from Paul and Bob, it allows these two men to showcase the strong musical relationship they've forged through the recent years from when they first worked together in Hard Rain, to the present day via this PHENOMENON of a melodic rock album. This is practically the very, very, very, Ve-Ry best work to bear the Bob Catley name, ever -absolutely no buts about it. Only outweighed if at all by Magnum's 85-88 material and perhaps nearly 'Middle Earth' too, the melodies created by Catley himself, the mega-gifted Mr Hodson, O'Regan, and let's mention Al Barrow (Hard Rain/Magnum) and new drummer Jamie Little (Saracen) too, made it all possible. This my friends is one album that will make Tony Clarkin quake in his boots.

10/10

By Dave Attrill

CHARGER -

Confessions Of A Man Mad Enough to Live Amongst Beasts
(Peaceville Records - 2003)

They are British. They are heavy. They are.. Well other straight descriptions of Staffordshire-based sludgecore metal arrivals are a bit tricky although they would hold quite an appeal to fans of Iron Monkey with their sound. Putting some though into how to back up their sometimes Devin-moulded mouthery, they have an interesting amalgam of guitar arrangements that know when to stand and when to kick.

Supported also by drumming from a chap who seems to be frightened of claming down, and production handled by Billy Anderson, behind releases by Neurosis and Eyehategod, the addition of another UK act like this to the scene should do plenty to balance the credibility in the contemporary metal market.

One point itself is practically deserved alone for the titles of some of these tracks - I'll let you see them for yourself when you buy this album that I suggest you consider doing. Material with little cause for complaint, apart from, from the neighbours.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Johnny Gioeli and Jun Senove - Crush 40
(Frontiers/Now and Then - 2003)

A Racin' Rockin' full on fifth gear overdrive - let's go that features the vocalist of Hardline (Gioeli) and Japanese guitar dude Jun.

The songs are similarly styled redlining 200+ mile an hour melodic rock gems that they obviously had a good time putting together.

Highlights include 'Revvin' up'; 'All the way' and the tasty 'Escape from the city' that features Ted Poley (original 'Danger Danger' vocalist).

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

Pre-July 2003
THE CALLING - For You
(Wind-Up Entertainment - 2003)

Another recently conceived rock act this time opting for the big break via the big screen and it would have to be this oh-so -slightly much talked about blockbuster, wouldn't it. Accounting for themselves musically, the solitary tune on offer here is a pleasantly mellow-sounding post-grunge number combined with that sort of new design melodic rock fell on behalf of its soulful implication.

I would have appreciated more than just one song, but this taste is just about enough to convince me there's something appetising round the corner. For me? Hmmm.. Probably.

7/10

By Dave Attrill

CHOLERIC - Weed Out The Weak

(Cholericmusic - 2003)

Y'know, there are those bands who just love to make a racket. But they like to write songs too, by the way. Choleric are doing that highly approved of styles in relentless death-core mixed with alternating-mode vocals, changing from growling to graceful and back on a well laid out synchrony we have seen perfected by Shadows Fall amongst recent others.

The guitars get in on the action and go through the styles, dominated by wisely influenced Sepultura-meets-Testament brute, notably on 'Colder', 'Mind Like Mine', 'Frieds Like You' and 'Kolobos' and there are moments that could have belonged to Usurper, Dearly Beheaded and even Extreme Noise Terror, to be traced.

In absolute contrast, 'My Angel', is an almost total departure from the sledgehammer brutality of the other ten tracks, going for a totally melodic dirge that accounts for an absolutely unexpected blast of versatility and has a vaguely noticeable grunge vibe. 'When The Sun Goes Down' then closes the album in style by compiling every idea from the rest of the disc onto one track and adding a smidgen of industrial vocal layering on the top for good measure.

At only half-an-hour or so long, it doesn't stop around long enough but extreme metal acts are long trained in the art of keeping it short and keeping it on top. Choleric know how it is.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

COMA STAR - Headroom Of Conscience

(Locomotive Music - 2003)

Like Spain, Switzerland have played a relatively minor role of profile in the rock/metal industry they've got less to be ashamed of, especially when bands of the Coma Star caliber show their face round the door. Either someone is trying to say that grunge is still big in 2003 or they are trying to reinvent an old machine, by replacing about 70% of its parts and polishing the others so thoroughly, you'd think they'd just rolled it off the belt, this morning.

Mixing the vital components of Cold, Soundgarden, Bush, and taking quite a few hints down the corridor from Brit hotshots Cortizone, and as the flyer quite rightly states, U2, intended trajectory of this band's musical craft is almost but not entirely known. The licks, the passion and the angst soaked melodies are all present and correct, and on listening a second time, I'm actually thinking suddenly of a more lightweight Disturbed - sod all the other comparisons.

Moving stuff by Coma Star there, a vital passenger on the modern day metal wagon. Worth hearing.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

California Guitar Trio - A Christmas Album
(Inside Out - 2002)

Ok, for the record, it ain't rock or metal but it's far to good not to review and simply throw to one side.

3 Classical guitarists playing Christmas ditties - the members being Bert Lambs (Brussels), Hideyo Moriya (Tokyo Native) and Paul Richards (Salt Lake City, Utah). They play up and down the West Coast of the USA.

I don't usually go near Christmas albums but when you get mind blowing performances of John and Yoko's 'Happy Xmas (War is over'; 'Greensleeves' - (the theme from the kids tv show 'Lassie') and 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence it's just got to be set spinning near the laser.

Here's to another great Christmas.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CORPORATION 187 - PERFECTION IN PAIN
(EARACHE RECORDS - WICK 14CD)

These Swedish thrashers hit the stereo with a full on assault and battery of European thrash metal at its best 'Perfection in Pain' is the second CD to be released from the brutality that lurks in the depths of Swedish hell.

Corporation 187 started out being a Slayer cover band so you have a rough idea what is about to enter into the sorry lives you lead. 'Religious Connection' starts off this ten track CD as any thrash metal CD is suppose to start, with extreme whirlwind guitar playing that rips the roof of any house to the intense pounding of the pneumatic drilling of the drums to the torturous screaming of the vocals that can and will bring the dead awake. Corporation 187 start as they mean to go on, but with a mission to put full on thrash/death metal to the forefront of the metal scene.

Although the CD lasts just over 30 minutes, it's tight, it's clear and it's worth a place in anyone's thrash metal collection along side your 'IN-Flames', 'Bathory' and 'Slayer' collection.

9/10

By Tony Watson

Pre-2003
Ruud Cooty - Aftermath
(Lucretia Records - 2002)

A blues-rock album featuring famed guitarist David T. Chastain that's got a vocalist called Stephen Frederick who sounds like a 70 year old heavy smoker who's constantly trying to removing sticky green stuff from his throat.

It's ok for a while but it doesn't break any new ground at all as the bulk of the album is a tedious task top get through and falls well short of David's other blues outing 'Southern Gentlemen'.

Highlights though include 'Crying through another heartbreak' with Chastain's metallic extended blues solo and 'Shoot 'em up (Drop 'em dead) about distressing a murder and nearly being killed in the process.

For hardcore blues-rock fans and David T. Chastain completions only.

5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CAMAROS - ROMANTIQUE
(BLACK BALLOON RECORDS BLN003 - 2002)

This trio from the outer limits of a rocky unpopulated environment of Norway hit the stereo with desperation, bought forward with genuine passion for authentic rock, Camaros are not your typical kick ass rock 'n' roll band with an attitude bigger than America, these guys know how to combine coherent riffs with fusion of fuzz and mantra like addictive grooves, which takes hold of you from the start of 'Babe, You Got Me Down'.

This Mixture of style could have you thinking is it 'Led Zeppelin', 'Hendrix' or even 'Oblivians' or even the alternative hardcore bands like 'Nomeansno', 'Butthole Surfers' and 'Lard' but you will make your own mind up when it's been played endlessly as their style grabs you by the balls, which leaves you with a sense of self satisfaction.

This 11 track 56 minute CD is a lot more interesting and fascinating than the camp cover they have used (don't let this put you off). If you are that sort of person how purchases a CD for it's cover then you will miss out on one of the greatest authentic rock albums of the year.

9/10
(-1 for the cover)

By Tony Watson

Crown of Thorns - Karma
(Point Music - 2002)

Warm, passionate, powerful rock that's extremely melodic with a large abundence of beautiful harmonies and hard edge featuring elements of Firehouse, Def Leppard, Danger Danger and a tad bit of Bon Jovi. The Californian vocalist and leader, Jean Beauvoir with his rich sweet vocals guides the band into musical splendour with some bright moments like the opening 'I believe' (and before you ask, no it's not that Bon Jovi song that starts off their 'Keep the Faith' album) with the news that it's be a scorcher of a day in LA, California.

So many highlights placed neatly together in a album lasting around 41 minutes such as rockin' 'Til you've had enough' with its crashing and gunshot sound effects; the realism of the ballad with Doro Pesch - 'Shed No Tears' - these two were born to sing together because their voices blend perfect; the sadness of another ballad 'Alone Again' with deep atmospheric keyboards. 'Keep on Survivin' seems to be an ode to staying in the music biz - which Crown of Thorns have managed to do for nearly a decade.

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CREED -BULLETS
WIND-UP Records - WUJC 20006-2

Bullets, 3 minutes and 49 seconds of Creed at their hardest and at their best, this is probably the heaviest track on the CD and as an album track, probably the best.
Creed when they do these sorts of tracks are in their element and as a single would be massive in the clubs.

10/10

By Tony Watson


Gilby Clarke - Swag
(Spitfire Records - 2002)

 

Gilby Clarke (that some of Joe Public will remember as the riff-meister who replaced Izzy Stradlin' in G 'n' R) is back with his latest studio album 'Swag' of which Gilby told me recently was a year in the making and the title means nothing - it's just a rock album.

Guests galore appear, most notably, guitarist Tracii Guns (LA Guns) and Kiss/Alice Cooper Drummer, Eric Singer who add that extra bit of spice 'n' kick to it. There's an amass of up-tempo original material and even a fresh 'n' lively cover of David Bowies 12-bar boogie epic, 'Diamond Dogs'.

'Swag' is modern, punky, pop, rock and metal all under the same banner. There's enough varied material to keep every listener entertained and coming back for more lavish helpings. 'Broken Down Car' is a 50's styled boss nova rocker that'll have you twistin' and smashin' up those seats and after which you'll need time to recover - so relax to 'Margarita' (a nice little song about a bar bird). How about the ballsy G 'n' R'ish, 'Beware of the Dog' with some awesome NIN vocal effects. One of the stand-out's though in my humble opinion is the blues harmonica squealer 'Warm Country Sun' where it seems AC/DC's Angus Young is paid tribute to because it's jam packed with crangin' riffery and dirty swagger.

Ok, it took Gilby a year to get this out onto the street - but there's a fair tunes that make it worth the wait.


7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

The Company of Snakes - Burst The Bubble
(SPV - 2002)

After their splendid amass of gigs throughout the UK in the last year or so - it's really great to see this collective force of ex-Whitesnake and ex-Rainbow members plus the ex-vocalist from Snakes in Paradise Stefan Berggren bring out their first all-new material studio album.

Quite frankly, if you loved early Whitesnake before Coverdale jumped over the pond then just it bought. It's got everything - blues-rock, throbbing 'snakey riffs thanks to ex-Whitesnakers Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden and even Rainbow come 'snake styles, courtesy of bassist Neil Murray and Keyboard extraordinaire, Don Airey. Splendid drumming comes from ex-Manfred Man's Earthband member, John Lingwood - who salutes Cozy Powell proudly - God Rest and Bless his Soul !!!

If you cast your mind back to the early 70's you may remember a band going by the name of Jo Jo Gunne - well C.O.S have adopted their rock classic 'Run, Run, Run' and mixed it in with one of their own 'Ride, Ride, Ride'- turning it into 'Ride Ride Ride (Run, Run, Run)'. It works a treat - god these boys are good.

I'm real pleased that they didn't stop as a parody of themselves - their new material may not completely over-ride standards like 'Slide it in' or 'Fool for your loving' but they have a damn good go. There's plenty of classy hard rock, like the title track itself, 'Burst the bubble' with it's big fat bluesy riffs, that reminds me of a cross between ZZ Top's 'Cheap Sunglasses' and 'Manic Mechanic' (from 79's 'Deguello album) - then there's the amazingly atmospheric whispering of the year '1984' from female backing vocalists.

Produced by Nikolo Kotzel who's worked with 'Accept' and has only recently stopped twiddling the knobs for Saxon (the awesome 'Killing Ground' album). 'Burst the Bubble' has a full-on raw energy rock production that captures them the way they come across in the live surrounding - the way it should be - REAL !!!

Sell-wise, the album is bound to do well - if moves as well as gig tickets then that'll be grand. I can see it being a future classic album with tracks like the ballsy 12-bar 'Little Miss Happiness' or the Whitesnake meets AC/DC with loads of harmony ditty called 'Kinda wish you would' about wanting a real nice bird to return the favour. 'Back to the Blues' is a stand-outer as well.

To sum it up, 'Burst the Bubble' is pure early 'snake written and recorded in the new millennium. The album comes complete with an into and outtro - the acoustic 'Ayresome Park' that'd fit snugly on Led Zeppelin Zep 3 or 4.

This is the nearest you'll get to a classic Whitesnake album !!! Now I wonder what Mr. Coverdale thinks to it ?!?!

10/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

February 2002

CLAWFINGER - A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING
(2001 - SUPERSONIC 080 - 74321 87033 2)

If you are not familiar with Clawfinger Then let me remind you of what they have released in the past. 'Nigger', 'Warfare', 'Pin Me Down', Do What I Say', 'Two Sides' and 'The Biggest And The Best' to name but a few popular tracks that have given Clawfinger the credit and a loyal fan base throughout the world.

Clawfinger have released their best CD to date with their techno metal, thrash guitars, sampling and rapping vocal content. With it's thirteen high tempo beats 'A Whole Lot Of Nothing' doesn't and won't give you time to settle down.

This is the forth-amazing CD from the Swedish techno metallers that contains the two hit singles 'Out To Get Me' and 'Nothing Going On', it also contains a wonderful surprise at track thirteen, 'Vienna' yes the same 'Vienna' from Ultravox, If you wonder whether they have made an abortion of it, then you will be pleasantly pleased with the out come. 'Vienna' is their version it is not a direct copy, it is Clawfinger at their best doing their best, it's a song that should be a single and given massive air play if it isn't already.

Clawfinger over the years have progressed with their style of music and every CD has that little bit extra to keep you interested. Songs like 'Burn In Hell', 'Evolution', 'Two Steps Away' and 'Paradise' have that hidden quality, which creeps out with every play.

This forty-eight minute CD is one that needs to be played load to really appreciate everything going off in the tracks, as a lot can be missed.

10/10

By Tony Watson

CONTAGIOUS - The Calling
(Z Records - 2001)

About a year ago, I was talking about the first full-lengther from Liverpudlian sextet Contagious, and how that year flew, despite me always thinking 'wish they'd hurry up with the new album.' They did at least have most of the material ready for its live airing at the 2001 Z-Rock show, and how I enjoyed it, so.

'Hear It Calling' is the I best remember from that day, although my favourite up to then had always been 'Muscle', a song originally recorded by Treat and appeared on Contagious 'Red White and Slightly Blue' four-tracker (which is worth getting). 'Time And Again', 'Lost And Lonely' and 'Suzi Ann' (trust there to be one, titled after a lady's name) rule the roost as well here, and there is actually in fact, a song called 'Lady' on the album.

The style continues very much as it did on the EP with all the bite you'd expect from eighties old-school heavy metal, with UFO and also hints of Paul Di'Anno-era Maiden. This is more or less purely everything today's trendies take pleasure in ridiculing to the ground- leather, denim, long hair and musical talent too. None of that ridicule comes from Metalliville quarters though, (you listening, Kerrang?) as quality not fashion is as always the strict principle us rockers - who still have a life - live by. It may be the very form of hard rock often associated with torn-jean-clad thirty somethings but 24-year olds are allowed to like it too.

Superb.

8/10

By Dave Attrill

Cradle of Filth - Midian
(Music For Nations/Koch - 2001)


Here's yet another batch of hammeristic, atmospheric keyboard driven ditties which turn into the usual predictable Black Metal musical routine that Mr. D. Filth, Esquire and the rest of the Cradle have become known for. These guys really are the Status Quo equivalivent of this dark noisy genre - but since Quo are still so immensely popular, I guess it's not a bad thing !!

On this album you basically get more of the same sort of stuff that you heard on their last few releases - deep and frighteningly sinister tales about Hell, Raping, Vampires, Dead Bodies and the rest..... Lyrically, this is pure excellence but he simply wastes these well-out thought out verses by sqawking and screeching through them so they make no sense whatsoever - unless you are a cave bat that can understand the sounds of it's own language when it's been coded up with inaudible English - 'nough said. At least there's an inclusion of all the lyrics so you can sing-a-long at your own leisure - Cradle Karaoke what a night that'd be at the local pub !!!

The vocals are simply pressed too close to the 200 m.p.h. instrumentation at the best of times - it's a wall of similar sound frequencies which does not help matters at all - these guys are loaded - so why have such a crap vocal mix !!! Musically speaking it's O.K. - a sort of Slayer meets Iron Maiden that's being played in the midle of a creepy graveyard that has the ambience of Donington race track.

Cradle of Filth appear to sell albums by the truckload and then there's the t-shirts, although Slipknot seem to have taken over the reigns in this department.

I'd really like to hear an album by these guys where you can make out the vocals - but I guess it'll never happen. It's great artwork - but the album is spoilt by its total lack of orginality and singing that might as well come from the throat of a strangulated cat, bat or squirrel.

Very disappointing.


5/10

P.S. Current keyboardist, Martin Powell is from my neck of the woods, in fact he went to the same high school (Wales, nr Sheffield, U.K. and even hung out with a band I also urge you to check out - Bal-Sagoth (featuring Chris 'n' Johnny Maudling and Lord Byron).

CREED - WEATHERED
WIND-UP 60150-13075-2

'Weathered' the long awaited new CD for over two years. Creed have definitely developed themselves mentally as well as musically, they have looked deep and hard within each other to bring the best out into their style of music, with a mixture of hard rock and ballads that reaches out to the depths of your heart.

'Weathered' probably starts off with the heaviest track to date for the band. 'Bullets' hits you harder than any Machine Head track, which comes as a bit of a surprise. Have Creed turned thrash? May be not, as you will soon find out if you haven't already.

Creed have hit the market with another wonderful masterpiece that again will give them worldwide credibility. 'Weathered' is an eleven track CD that contains the massively acclaimed single 'My Sacrifice', but this definitely isn't the best track on the CD, track three 'Who's Got My Back?' is a wonderful ballad that starts off for a minute or so with a faded solo Indian chanting as he gradually fades away a dark and eerie sound comes across, which reminds you of a still mornings fog, an extremely heart felt track.
These three tracks are not the only excellent tracks on the CD, there is 'Stand Here With Me', 'Weathered', 'Hide' and 'Lullaby', which all have a different effect on you.

Creed have again risen above their expectation and the expectations of their fan base, with another CD that will be left in the Player for years to come.

9/10

By Tony Watson

January 2002

Alice Cooper - Dragontown
(Eagle-Rock Records - 2001)

Mr Furnier's latest release sounds very much like an echo if his 'Brutal Planet' album - in fact 'Deeper' (about a plummeting lift) is more or less the title track with different words, whereas the chorus from 'Dragontown' sounds just like 'Pick up the bones' (again from 'Brutal Planet). I guess these tracks are leftovers from the Brutal Planet sessions or he's simply got this album out too quick to be different. It's a bit like Metallica's 'Load/Re-load syndrome'.

Lyrically 'Dragontown' is as sick and twisted as ever, but the album, in my opinion is spoilt by the over use of bland nu-metal sounding chug-chug guitar playing (which the Brutal Planet suffers from on a large scale!!!). I can't understand why Alice has done this - the kids have got the likes of Coal Chamber, Slipknot and Soulfly etc etc to beat out their frustrations to. I think I'm probably speaking to the real fans on this point when I say 'I'd sooner hear a real Alice Cooper album - not a nu-metal replica of what's been mainstream for the last few years.

Don't get me wrong, there are some great songs on the album though, like 'Triggerman' which wouldn't be out of place on the 'Buffy the Vampire' series with it's catchy chorus and pacey drum work. Alice has include one of the coolest tributes or should I say 'Diss-tributes' to the King of Burger Eating - Elvis Presley, where Mr. C performs a great impersonation of
the Graceland God - I hope it's released as a single, because the video would be killer!!!

The dark 'n' grooving 'Somewhere' is pure sickly spread decapitation fun about dead bodies, tribal warfare un-merciful killing and other happy stuff like that - it's one that granny will love mixed in with her tape featuring Des O' Connor and Val Doonican, hmmmmm!!!

Like Brutal Planet, Alice has included a gorgeous ballad about the fairer sex called 'Every woman has a name', which stands in line with 'Only woman bleed' from 75's 'Welcome to my Nightmare' - Brilliant stuff - again about a female (or any female) who gets treat badly by her man. If only the majority of the album was as good as this track or better, then it would have been a definite 10/10.

Come on Alice - you can do miles better than this - here's to a future album that can match 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'Welcome to My Nightmare', 'Trash', or 'Killer' because this one definitely doesn't.

'Dragontown' is an album that's overall very disappointing and incredibly average sounding for Alice Cooper.

 

6.5/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CREED - MY SACRIFICE (single)
WIND-UP WUJC20001-2 (2001)

This is Creed's 1st single 'My Sacrifice' taken from the new album 'Weathered' out 20th November 2001.

If you are a big fan of 'Creed' you won't be disappointed with the new release, I don't think it's the best track to come off for promoting the new album, but it's one of those songs that grow on you the more you hear it and one that will get the air play.

8/10

By Tony Watson

Larry Carlton/Steve Lukather - No Substitutions (Live in Osaka)
(Favoured Nations - 2001)

Recorded before a club in Osaka (while on a three week tour of Japan), these two musical legends have brought us five beauties and leave you realising just what you are missing out continuously on in Great Britain.

Super-session Guitar man, Larry Carlton, (who's worked with Streisand, Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan) twinned up with Toto's Steve Lukather and assembled a Dogs B*ll*cks backing band of Greg Bisonette (drums), Chris Kent (Bass) and Rick Jackson (on Keyboards). There's vibing humour ever present as well as error-free perfection when the musicianship is concerned. What else is expected with a line-up like this with the blues-rock of Larry Carlton's 'Don't Give it Up', backing up every word I say.

O.K, so not many songs are included on the CD, but what do you expect when Jeff Beck's 'The Pump' is dragged out for 14 and a half minutes or a 14 minute rendition of 'All Blues' by Miles Davis' is included as well. The best track on the CD has got to be the magnificently momentous Larry Carlton classic 'Room 335'. Hey guys, when do you plan to play the U.K. some time soon and elevate our spirit with a couple of class gigs.

7/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

 

BOB CATLEY - Middle Earth

(Now and Then/Frontiers Records 2001)


Bob, my mate, you have potted black, big time with this album. And Gary Hughes, for his superhuman song-writing talents as well, because between the two of you, you have already produced what by rights should actually be 'album of the YEAR', with only the new Hardline album being any danger really of rivalling it in the stakes.

Anyway, let's sit down with our drinks, darken the room, light a few candles and huddle round the table as we enjoy the greatest adaptation of novel-into-rock album, probably ever created. I may not have actually read any of Tolkien's stuff in depth, but Bob seems to have gone cover to cover a good few times of late. 'The Wraith Of The Rings' opens the show with what sounds in ways like a carbon copy of 'The Light' from previous record 'Legends' but I don't complain, as satisfactory improvisations are well in order.

The second track is broken into three parts, the main body of which is 'Emissary' preceded by 'The Fields That I Recall', which virtually replicates the melody off the beginning of 'Scream', and is followed by 'The Fields That I Call (reprise)'. A truly handsome little trilogy of tunes, each explaining various small stages of the story, and that keyboard lick which always heads the chorus on 'Emissary' is pure classic Magnum.

'The City Walls' begins as what I can only describe as 'Les Morts Dansant Part 2' but then it suddenly triples its speed into something that sits comfortably between Hard Rain and Ten, and I love it. 'Against The Wind' is one of the standouts, is there is such a thing on an album completely loaded with 'em, with some of the best vocals on the whole album, with what seems like an entire choir of them taking turns on that chorus with the cleverly staggered vocal line arrangements. Magnum territory, circa 'Chase The Dragon' ensues with a further three-piece song, consisting of 'Where You Lead I'll Follow', 'Stormcrow & Pilgrim', and 'Where You Lead I'll Follow (reprise), another splendid conceptual core to the album, with a better range of tempos to the previous medley. 'Return Of The Mountain King' is the greatest song we've got today, and they really spoilt things by giving it out on a recent Powerplay taster CD.

'The End Of Summer' is the evidence of Hughes's work - it is practically a Ten song with a different singer. And when things can't match the style of Bob's recently reformed legendary act any more, 'This Gallant Band Of Magic Strangers' swings together Chase The Dragon, Storyteller's Night, and clutches firmly at Vigilante too in a spectacular manner. 'The Fellowship' is once again Ten territory, bearing ample similarities with 'We Rule The Night' from the Spellbound album, and is a thoroughly grand way of ending an even grander album. Bob's already blown us into space with that December show at the Corporation Night-club, Sheffield and most people thought that might be it until the Magnum comeback begins in earnest - but that sneak preview of the aforementioned tune that he gave us at the end of the set told me, though obviously not many others of you, that something incredible was coming even sooner. Here it is all of a sudden, enriched with the passion, emotion and power that no album of Bob Catley's is complete without, but this album is somewhat more than 'complete", matey!

10/10

by Dave Attrill

City Girl's Boys - City Girl's Boys
(Apollo Records 2001)

These boys are from LA and if you like trashy punk sleaze then surely enough
you'll dig this. They come across as Hanoi Rocks in a Sex Pistols and Dogs D'Amour kind of way. The Dogs for the vocal quality and Hanoi/Pistols for the music.

In this pack you'll come across Steve on Guitarz, Chris playing Baze, Lesli being guilty for vocalz and Jerry who batterz thoze Drumz, who'll simultaneously assault your ears with lashings of Glam land splendour. What can I say - some of these guyz have been members of Pretty Boy Floyd and Queeny Blast Pop.

With six tracks in total, here's the run-down:

Opener, 'Waiting' has a melodic Dogs D'Amour quality to it, gone more up to date in an Indie Punk kind of way and incorporates a scary instrumental section reminiscent of very early Alice Cooper (think 'Pretties For You', 'Easy Action' and 'Love it to Death').

'Heroine' is straight-up 2,3,4 in-your-face punk rock. The lyrics are bound to take hold of you. 'You are my heroine', sings Lesli and he means it. It's a great 2 and a half minute power surge. Imagine 'Toilet Boys' without the cheesy handclaps and you get the idea.

'What I Want' is a future pop-punk classic with a moderate tempo and great melodics.

'Believe' is a song that's obsessed with spending a million dollars - and it's a great thing that everyone would love to do - I like this track a lot.

'Reality Check' is probably the most commercial cut on the CD - with its sort of Manic Street Preachers meets Suede style. Check out the nice guitar solo here - top stuff!!

'Space Ships' is the best track by far on the CD. If you can imagine The Police turning kicking out a rollicking punk cut then I reckon they'd sound something like this. Utter Brilliance. What a chorus.

If City Girl Boys get enough airplay and promotion they are destined to go far. I look forward to the next release if this is anything to go by.

7/10 By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

CORONACH - THE GIFT OF FORESIGHT
(SPLATTERTRIBE)

Getting things off to a good start for my first decent listen to death metal, this US act's six tracker rages into action with the somewhat slightly over complex 'Sackcloth and Ashes', which practically uses up all the many musical ideas on this 32-minute CD in just around 6. It's actually about three-quarters of the way through 'The Defeated' by the time I realise we're onto another song. When you're dealing with tunes that distinguishable from one another by little more than their titles, you really ought to have a bigger or recognisable gap in between.

The guitar work is actually quite melodic when it feels like being, and the vocalist - as do quite a few (thousand) in this field of metal, probably takes his cues from a chap called Dani (Filth) plus more than likely, our Norwegian friends too. Death and Black metal have moved on though a bit since I was a lad even if virtually all the recommended ingredients are still being used.


7/10

By Dave Attrill

The Creature Comforts - The Politics Of Pop

(Noisome Records)

Basic punky-pop, which isn't far removed from the post-punk/new-wave bands of
the late 70s. Elvis Costello meets 90s grunge perhaps ?. No seriously the
vocalist does sound like Elvis Costello at times.
Standout tracks are sadly few and far between. None of the tracks hook you in
at all. It sounds dated. A little sturged, uninvolving, and feels like it goes
on forever, even though theirs only 10 tracks in total.
A disappointing effort from a band with such an interesting name. I guess you
can't judge a book by its cover. Damn, I even liked the title of the album too.

3/10

By David Roberts, BA Hons FS

Crowbar - Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form
(Spitfire/Eagle-Rock Records 2001)

I've heard the name before but this is my first hearing of Crowbar's music. I have to say I am impressed with some of the songs on offer.

Opener, 'The Lasting Dose' comes across as very much a Pist-On/Type O Negative/Black Sabbath blast where you hear vocalist/guitarist, Kirk Windstein rawping his throat out about pain.

If you like heavy deep attitude metal caked in dark thick sludge and down-tuned doom complete with Roaring vocals then you'll f**kin' love Crowbar. Many of the songs have a similar kind of feel, but don't be put off by that - it's all done excellently - and hats off to 'em for it. Check out 'Thru the Ashes (I've watched you burn)', 'Counting Daze', 'Suffering Brings Wisdom' or the hardcore assault of 'Failure to delay gratification' for top-notch examples of this. If you fancy a quiet 'n' mellow instrumental moment then lay back and relax to 'In Times Of Sorrow' - you just won't believe that it's the same band - it's from one extreme right to the other!!!

Crowbar's 'Sonic Excess…' album is gonna do well and I imagine it'll receive high ratings in many rock and metal publications throughout the world.

6/10

By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

The Cult - Beyond Good and Evil

(Lava/Atlantic Records - 2001)

After seven years of silence, The Cult hit the market with a new CD, that's Produced and Engineered by Bob Rock.

If you love The Cult then you will go out and purchase it anyway - but if you aren't - then it is well worth getting a copy. Don't expect it to have tracks like 'She Sells Sanctuary'; 'Firewoman'; 'Wild Flower'; 'Li'l Devil' or even 'Edie (Ciao Baby)'. This CD is a lot harder and heavier. If you have heard the single 'Rise ' or even 'War (The Process) then expect the rest of the album to be of a similar nature. There are some excellent tracks like 'Take The Power'; 'Breath'; 'American Gothic' and 'My Bridges Burn' as well as a couple of semi-acoustic tracks (these being 'Nico' and 'True Believers' - which I can see being the next single).

'Beyond Good and Evil' is very much a typical Cult CD - an album that keeps growing on you the more you play it. It's such a shame that it's not had much publicity - Give it a blast.

8/10

By Tony Watson

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